6 Sports/Hockey Related Predictions For the Unholy Matrimony of NBC Sports & VERSUS
December 3, 2009 7 Comments
I’ve thought a little bit about these, so here goes:
1. NBC Sports/VERSUS Will Bid on Every Major League’s Broadcast/Cable Rights Between Now and 2014
Between 2011 and 2014, every major rights agreement in Sports TV, aside from the NBA (2016) and SEC (Forever from now) will be up for grabs. That means the NFL, MLB, and most importantly to our readers, the NHL. NBC Sports having VERSUS as it’s cable arm gives it a power they did not have until now. Not only does plunking down hundreds of millions of dollars down on a sports league make sense, but it’s something NBC/Comcast now must do to make the investment worthwhile.
NBC is a sinking ship. Right now, with the network in 4th place, I have a feeling they’ll take as much guaranteed ratings-grabbing programming as they can. Watch them restart their proud tradition of baseball broadcasting, with a Saturday game of the week supplemented by a Sunday or Wednesday night game on VERSUS. Potentially an LCS on both NBC & VERSUS? I’m sure the NHL would be happy with that promotional vehicle.
2. NBC will go back to broadcasting regional NHL games instead of a Game of the Week.
Now that NBC has the entire VERSUS NHL production team at it’s disposal, they’ll have a ton of hockey people to pay anyway, so chances are we’ll see the three-game national split again in coming years, except for the occasional Ovechkin-Crosby or Red Wings-Pens game.
3. The NHL Network will open up a New York studio at 30 Rock.
Comcast owns a share of the NHL Network, and will probably want to open up it’s own American studio for the U.S. version of the channel at some point. With one of the most historic television buildings of the world at your disposal, there’s no reason not to have NHL: On the Fly with your host Al Roker.
4. VERSUS Will Be the New Home of Sunday Night Football
This is going out on a serious limb. NBC will re-bid for the NFL when the rights discussions come up, but instead of just going after one package, they will look to purchase two. They’ll try to wrestle away the AFC from CBS, and attempt to buy back the Sunday Night package, and place it on VERSUS.
5. No Brainer – Nightly Sports Highlight Shows
You think Dick Ebersol won’t give us a SportsCenter clone and an NHL2Night revival with him running the show? Then you don’t know Dick. Farewell, Fanarchy.
6. The NHL and VERSUS/NBC Will Sign a 6-year, Multimedia Rights Extension worth About $500 Million total.
If I had to venture a guess, based on the previous rounds of negotiating (Which ended in VERSUS having a 6-year, about $400 million total if I’ve done the math correctly, and rectify it if I’m wrong) that ESPN will come close to this, but not likely do more. Yes, it’s an over-bid. But it’s a bargain considering the NHL’s growth potential, and how much they’ll have to pay for everything else.