Versus is still dark on DirecTV, but more light is being shed in its skirmish with Comcast. Here’s a brief synopsis.
DirecTV initially said it was about price, that Comcast was seeking a 20% hike in licensing fees for Versus. Additionally DirecTV has said it is paying more for the service than other providers. But Comcast says that isn’t so and that the issue is that DirecTV wanted to move the package into some digital sports tier ghetto on DirecTV where Versus would’ve been available to six million fewer DirecTV subscribers.
Previously Versus was available to subscribers of the Total Choice Xtra package, where it was available to around 14 million on DirecTV who subscribe to that package at no additional cost. From DirecTV’s perspective, it is merely looking to get similar treatment as its satellite competitior DISH:
DirecTV, in an email response later that day, wrote “we’ve asked for packaging rights similar to other distributors like Dish,” which it says carries Versus on its AT250 tier and has about a 35% penetration rate. “Our contention is, if it’s good for Dish, why isn’t it good for us? At this [point], the deal is terminated and we are treating this as a new network, from scratch. So we’re attempting to gauge the market and Dish seems like a good barometer.”
I still think DirecTV has more leverage here, perhaps even more so than I did before.
Meanwhile, Comcast/Versus has hired an outside PR firm to help get Versus-loving DirecTV subscribers on the Internet riled up and complaining to DirecTV