SBJ/20100201/This Week's News

Versus plans news and entertainment show in 6 ET slot

Versus will launch a daily news and entertainment show in the second quarter that company executives call a cross between a morning news show and a late-night talk show.

The hourlong show will occupy the 6-7 p.m. ET time slot Monday through Friday, which now consists of programming ranging from original series to sports events. Versus has not settled on a name or hosts for the show, which will be shot in New York.

“The same way a good morning show gets you ready for the day, we want this show to get viewers ready for the sporting night ahead,” said Versus President Jamie Davis.

When Davis started at Versus in September 2008, he made the development of original programming one of his priorities, though he said he had no desire to launch a daily news show that would compete with ESPN’s popular “SportsCenter.”

The planned show will feature guests, call-in segments and digital applications, like online chats.

Davis has overseen the highest-rated year in the network’s history. Versus set network highs in prime time and total day, logging a total of more than 113 million total-day viewers in 2009, an increase over 2008 of more than 16 million viewers. That audience growth gave Versus executives confidence that a base exists to support a daily show.

Davis also has been encouraged by the success of original shows like “Sports Soup” and “Sports Jobs.”
“Fanarchy” completed its original run in August and is on the shelf. Davis credits those types of shows for helping Versus develop the type of personality to launch a daily show.

“What’s our personality? Well, we’re a little bit edgy and a little bit different than what you’d expect,” Davis said.

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