It was an unfortunate name from the beginning. For a cable station. For a Pearl Jam album. For anything. Versus. Versus what? Of course, Versus may have seemed like an upgrade when the Outside Life Network re-branded itself in 2006. But at least you knew what OLN was: a network about Outside Life. Versus, on the other hand, could be anything. Is it a 24-hour poetry station? Fortunately not. In fact, Versus has carved out a niche as a home for the National Hockey League.
So when NBC Sports honcho Dick Ebersol (above) announced today that NBC and Versus had outbid ESPN for the rights to broadcast hockey, to the tune of a new 10-year, $2 billion contract with the NHL, he added that Versus, which came into the NBCUniversal family with the recent Comcast deal, would be renamed in the next 90 days to something more NBC-friendly.
Obviously, I’m not sad to Versus go. But I’m curious what NBC has in mind. Recall that Versus’ sports-centric programming includes professional lacrosse, extreme sports, and college baseball, among other niche jock events. It’s a virtual lock that the new Versus will be part of NBC’s Olympic coverage in 2012. So what should we expect to call the new Versus? Might it be a simple as the NBC Sports Channel? Um, yes. It could be.
But where’s the fun in that? I’m leaning towards PUCK-U. If there must be some NBC identity in the new name, I can live with NBCU-Later. (An earnest tribute to the old Bob Costas show!) What do you suggest? And will a new name help you locate Versus on your cable box?