Wednesday was the day that the NHL announced their national television schedules for the upcoming season. The league's main United States television partner, Versus, has a slate of 54 games that begins on the first night of NHL play, Oct. 1.
FanHouse has learned, however, that millions of fans might not have access to those games. Major satellite provider DirecTV is in a contract dispute with Versus that threatens to take the network off the service.
DirecTV says their contract with Versus expires Aug. 31, and while they note that negotiations are ongoing, their message to customers makes it clear that the network could be removed from DirecTV if a deal is not reached.
A brief question and answer on DirecTV's website puts the blame for this issue on Versus.
Versus is asking for terms which do not reflect the market and which they are not asking of all other distributors. DIRECTV wants to keep your monthly fees low, so it's doing everything it can to avoid paying exorbitant programming fees.Obviously, the NHL is affected, as they are the main anchor of Versus' programming.
Also impacted are fans of college football. Versus is scheduled to air games out of the Big 12, Pac 10, and Mountain West this fall, starting with Texas at Wyoming Sept. 12.
There are still more than 10 days left before this contract expires. However, in the light of the NHL's improved ratings and overall exposure nationally last year, this is not good news.