When news of TBS dropping Big XII football games broke, there was talk about FSN sublicensing these games to Versus, home of the NHL, rodeo, and the Tour de France. Fortunately, a deal with ESPN and ESPN2 was worked out, which represents an upgrade. (I still don't like the 8pm kickoffs though...)
Now comes word that Versus is back into the mix, with FSN now sublicensing Big XII and Pac-10 college football games to Versus. Good deal or not? I think it depends on whether these games represent additional TV games or if they are games that are currently televised by FSN at 11:30 am. Problem is, the word isn't particularly clear. The Des Moines Register reported today that the Iowa @ Iowa State game is the first game to be televised by Versus.
If these games are in addition to the 11:30 am games on FSN, this is a good deal if only because they are games that would otherwise not be televised or televised on pay-per-view. However, if this a replacement for 11:30 am FSN games, this is a horrible deal for the Big XII. Versus has limited distribution nationwide, frequently relegated to digital cable or sports packages. This has been an issue for the NHL, which has seen it's nationwide visibility drop after they switched from ESPN to Versus. The broadcasts themselves are fine, with decent graphics and better announcers than FSN seems to scrape together. But the limited availability of Versus is an issue. (Not to me; my cable company carries Versus...but I sympathize with those folks who don't have Versus, such as Omaha's crappy, overpriced Cox Cable...)
I can already hear the uproar when the first Nebraska game is televised by Versus, and people scramble to try to figure out where it is on their cable system, if it's even there. (Hint...it used to be called "OLN: Outdoor Life Network"...) Remember the fuss when a Nebraska/Kansas State game was moved to FX? This could be even louder...