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Exclusive: DirecTV/Versus Dispute Likely to End Next Week [UPDATED]

By CagePotato contributor Jonathan Snowden

Thousands of MMA fans will turn on their television Saturday night, looking for some manly action like WEC 47 or Road House and come up empty. That’s probably because they foolishly purchased DirecTV, not knowing that the provider would soon cut Versus, home to ice hockey, second-rate racing leagues, rodeo, and cage fighting.

Luckily, that’s about to change. Sources close to the situation tell CagePotato that the dispute will come quietly to an end next week, with DirecTV subscribers once again able to purchase Versus as part of a special sports tier. While it won’t come in time for this weekend’s WEC card, MMA fans with DirecTV should have the opportunity to purchase the channel by the time the UFC runs its first event on the network later this month.

The agreement brings to an end a long and arduous six months without the WEC. But what was the fuss all about? Why did I have to squint at Urijah Faber in a tiny box on my computer screen, afraid of Lorenzo Fertitta looking over my shoulder? Remember when you watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and were immediately bored when the dispute in question involved "trade routes?" The story we’re about to tell is similar.

Versus and DirecTV, a satellite television provider with more than 18 million customers, couldn’t come to an agreement over the phallic-sounding "penetration rate." Long story short, Versus wants to be available to as many customers as possible. DirecTV wants to put the network on a special sports tier that would require customers to pay a premium for the content. It looks like Versus may capitulate and decide some DirecTV subscribers are better than none. Or maybe it will be DirecTV caving in to pressure from hundreds of new hockey fans in a post-Olympic boom. Either way, MMA fans win, just in time for the WEC’s great push towards pay-per-view.

Update: A Versus spokesman confirmed negotiations were taking place but indicated that they were not hopeful of a settlement by April.

Cagepotato Comments

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Chri534.- March 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm
You might want to update your update.

...Just throwin' that out there.
CyclingNut- March 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm
When you list the sports fans depending on Versus, be sure to include cycling fans who sit glued to the multiple airings of each day's stage of the Tour de France in July. Not to mention the other top cycling races that Versus now airs. That programming alone is why I chose DirecTV. Now they're just pissing me off.
tRodHxC- March 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm
I was working for DirecTV when Versus was pulled from the lineup. The Reason Versus was pulled is because Comcast purchased Versus. Comcast is the nations largest cable provide while DirecTV is the nations largest satellite company. Comcast tried to increase the previous contract Versus had with DirecTV at unfair rates when compared to other providers such as DishNetwork and Time Warner Cable. If DirecTV would have kept Versus as part of the ChoiceExtra and PlusDVR packages they would have to had taken a cut in profits or increase the prices in their package. It came down to Versus not being worth that much to the company until Comcast budged on its price. We received multiple emails stating the company would not budge on this position even though customer were leaving cause they wanted their PBR and hockey. I always asked if it was for the WEC but unfortunately it was always those cowboys. The reason Versus is going back to DirecTV is plain and simple...the UFC. DirecTV is one of the main sources of income for UFC's PPV's and they probably made it clear that they want to be on DirecTV to reach out to the millions of subscribers. Who knows though...just my opinion.
Fried Taco- March 5, 2010 at 9:08 am
Dish with two dual DVRs, I've got more MMA recorded than I can shake my stick at.
ipponthrow- March 5, 2010 at 7:55 am
The whole thing is crap. I won't go to Comcast because of no HD PPV, and i'm not paying more with Direct TV for VS (for the sports package). Besides, now Dana White is going to make the WEC PPV. Typical...Mo money, mo money! I respected the fact that the population could enjoy "free" quality MMA live fights on VS (WEC), but now greed has once again ruined a good thing. I almost always do PPV for the UFC, but this BS with the VS and WEC (and now WEC PPV) has got me to the point of forgetting the PPV altogether, and just rolling at the dojo. If the WEC is going to maintain it's fanbase, then they should stick to the original formula of free fights on "whatever channel wants to support them".
UFC is now the best- March 5, 2010 at 6:35 am
Yeah I have Comcast, which does give me Versus, but like superflat said, No HDNET (I guess I would rather have Versus than HDNET) and the UFC PPV not in HD really pisses me off. They offer it to me the next day with On-Demand in HD but not live in HD, it is truly a crime.
robthom- March 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm
Fair enough.

But do you have a Star Wars edition PSP2000 with GenD3?

PurplePickle- March 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm
Access to every Pittsburgh Steelers game, every season.
robthom- March 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm
I've got hdnet and vs.
What you got?
4th and Schlong- March 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm
Awesome how Direct TV has had a message posted on the channel that used to be VS, claiming that they would not give in to Comcasts (who owns VS) Ridiculous demands. To bad those "Demands" are that their channel be included in basic programming, Allegedly. How "Ridiculous" of you to think that the 100 dollars a month I already pay is not enough.
Walrus- March 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm
Dish sucks
robthom- March 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm
I've almost always had dish. Tried direct once, didn't like the remote.
Fedor vs. Bas- March 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm
about time.
superflat- March 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm
There's no winning as an MMA fan. Have Comcast? No hdnet, no UFC ppv in hd. Damn everyone for not supporting my niche interest.
mthomas- March 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm
Like Versus, I too have been concerned about my 'Penetration Rate'. Eventually, also like Versus, I decided that some penetration is better than no penetration. HI-OH!
Walrus- March 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm
Versus Vs IndirectTV- March 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm
This has seriously been the best freakin news I've heard all year! I felt like a confused kid in the middle of a bad divorce.
matjunkie- March 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm
Oh yeah, they will lose subscribers. BIG TIME!

watch ufc and wwe ppv
Versus Vs IndirectTV- March 4, 2010 at 1:34 pm
So much for my CP alias
hjdevnull- March 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm
Gosh, that's... great. It's like they agreed to get one last kick in the nuts to the DirecTV-subscribing MMA fans of the world (read: me) before resolving this. Lovely.