SBD/Issue 5/Sports Media

DirecTV Not Likely To Carry Saturday's BYU-FSU Game On Versus

DirecTV VP/PR Darris Gringeri said it is "very, very doubtful" that a carriage agreement will be reached with Versus before Saturday's BYU-Florida State college football game on the net, according to Jay Drew of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. DirecTV earlier this month removed Versus from its platform "after the two sides failed to reach a contract agreement, and so millions of college football fans who subscribe to DirecTV will not get" Saturday's game. Versus President Jamie Davis Wednesday said that it "doesn't look like there will be a resolution any time soon." Davis: "Right now it is not looking like there is a near-term solution -- certainly not before this Saturday's big game." Drew writes while DirecTV and Versus "point fingers, call each other names and trade insults," the "real losers are college football fans and, locally, Mountain West Conference [MWC] football programs such as BYU, TCU and Utah that are crying out for more national exposure and respect." DirecTV subscribers missed last Saturday's Texas-Wyoming game on Versus, and "six more MWC games are scheduled to be televised by the fledgling network this season." BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said, "It's a shame. It's very unfortunate. ... It is unfortunate with the contract that negotiations couldn't be reached for the benefit of the subscribers, the fans. And it is too bad. The (MWC's TV) contract in general, from beginning to end, has been less than desired" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/18). Davis earlier this week said that he "wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility that his network will resolve its differences before game time on Saturday, but that he 'wouldn't count on' any kind of resolution before then." Davis said of simulcasting the game on The mtn., the MWC's network, "We don't have any rights under our contracts to do that." There also will be "no streaming of the game on any Internet sites" (DESERET NEWS, 9/17).

BLITZ ATTACK: In Jacksonville, Garry Smits reports Versus has "launched a media blitz" including a half-page ad in the Florida Times-Union Friday and a "blizzard of radio spots in Tallahassee." The ads "make it clear that the FSU-BYU game won't be available to DirecTV subscribers, and an 800 number is provided that, when called, gives a recorded message criticizing DirecTV for dropping Versus" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/18). In Utah, Scott Pierce notes fans "want to blame the Mountain West Conference for the Versus-DirecTV breakdown," and that "ought to trouble the league." It is "more evidence of the lingering resentment over the league's TV situation." Pierce: "I'm not for a moment suggesting the criticism is correct. But it is indicative of a deeper problem that never seems to end" (DESERET NEWS, 9/18). Meanwhile, in K.C., Blair Kerkhoff reports the Big 12 "isn't happy" that DirecTV customers will not see Saturday's Duke-Kansas football game on Versus. Big 12 Senior Associate Commissioner Tim Allen: "Obviously we hope they resolve it. Candidly, while it may not be convenient there are opportunities to find the games elsewhere" (K.C. STAR, 9/18).

WHAT'S COOLER THAN COOL? Davis noted that getting Versus back on DirecTV by October 1 for the start of the '09-10 NHL season "isn't looking particularly promising." Davis: "The two sides are now talking again, and that's a good sign. I'm hoping for an amicable solution, but right now I would have to say that DirecTV is insistent in not budging off this distribution issue. If they stay the way they are, I do not believe this will ... be solved prior to Oct. 1, unfortunately." YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote the NHL "may have to become a more active player in this dispute as time runs short." Davis said, "The NHL is very squarely behind us. And remember, DirecTV pulled us off the air" (, 9/17).

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