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Davis Says Versus' Price
Similar To Other Providers'
SEEKING SIMILAR TREATMENT: A DirecTV spokesperson said the satellite service is "asking for packaging rights similar" to Dish Network. DAILY VARIETY's Stuart Levine notes Versus is available on Dish Network "for a separate fee and not part of the main programming package." Dish's Classic Gold 250 package costs subscribers $47.99 a year "for Versus and other premium networks." Meanwhile, Davis said he hopes "things can be resolved amicably, but I can't accept a situation where Versus can lose 6 million viewers." Davis: "They didn't call us before they turned us off. Frankly, those who see us on DirecTV should consider switching providers" (DAILY VARIETY, 9/2). Meanwhile, CABLEFAX DAILY reports Dish "jumped into the fray" yesterday in announcing that Versus "would be offered to subs for free for 3 months starting today." While Versus "has some events coming up," such as the September 12 Texas-Wyoming college football game and the September 18 IRL Indy Japan 300, it is the "kickoff of NHL on Oct. 1 that is the biggest pressure point for a deal" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 9/2).
IS TIME ON THEIR SIDE? THE SPORTING BLOG's Chris Littmann wrote if there "was a time for Versus and DirecTV to go into a protracted contract debate, it's now," as college football "hasn't started yet and neither has the NHL." But if the dispute continues "into the start of the NHL season and the heart of college football, this will be really ugly for all sides" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/1).
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MUSIC MAKERS: The Dave Matthews Band will serve as the official band of ESPN's college football coverage throughout the '09 season. The band will provide 10 original songs -- seven from the recent release "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King" -- for game and studio telecasts on multiple platforms. Uses for the music will include highlight montages, promotions of upcoming shows and coming in and out of commercial breaks (ESPN).
ESPN earned a 6.0 cable rating and 7.918 million viewers for the Vikings-Texans "MNF" preseason telecast this week, marking the net's most-viewed NFL preseason game ever and its highest-rated since a 6.6 rating for Patriots-Cowboys in August '96 (ESPN). Meanwhile, DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell reports CBS, NBC and Fox last week "all benefited from football," as they "picked up steam thanks to a larger serving" of preseason games. ABC beginning this week "will get a lift of its own" from "Saturday Night Football" (DAILY VARIETY, 9/2).
YES BLUE CAN: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds reported Pennsylvania-based Blue Ridge Communications and YES Network have reached a deal in which Blue Ridge "renewed its linear distribution agreement" with YES and secured VOD and local streaming rights to Yankees games on the network. Also Blue Ridge beginning next year will offer YES' national package of content "for its subscribers that fall outside the RSN's telecast territory." Reynolds noted Blue Ridge is the "first distributor to finalize an agreement for all four of the YES properties simultaneously," and the company follows Cablevision and Verizon FiOS as the "third distributor to sign local market broadband streaming deals" with YES, the Yankees and MLBAM (MULTICHANNEL.com, 9/1).
JOINING THE SCRUM: Spike TV picked up the rights to Australia's '09 National Rugby League (NRL) playoffs and championship. The channel will telecast all games in HD on same-day tape delay, starting September 11 with weekly playoff games and running through the October 4 championship. This marks the first time the NRL will appear on national TV in the U.S. Nine Network Australia will produce the games, with Peter Sterling, Ray Warren, Andrew Johns and Phil Gould announcing (John Ourand, THE DAILY).NRL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE ON SPIKE TV
PLAYOFF ROUNDDATETIME (ET/PT) Qualifying Round9/1111:00pm Semi Finals9/1811:00pm Preliminary Finals9/2511:00pm Grand Final10/411:00am