On the same day DirecTV pulled the plug on Versus, rival satellite television provider DISH Network made Versus available as a free preview to its subscribers for a three month period, which includes the Oct. 10 WEC event.
While WEC officials had not responded at the time of publication, UFC president Dana White recently commented on the situation.
"I have a new TV deal on Versus. I have a great relationship with them and they’re owned by Comcast. Trust me when I tell you, them and DirecTV are gonna work it out. Maybe they’ll keep butting heads and go off the air for a little while, but we’re talking about Comcast. We’re not talking about some wimpy little network or something like that. They’re gonna figure it out."
Bear in mind we are talking about an arrangement where actions being taken by one side are described as "non-negotiable" or "non-starter" or even "deal breaker" by the other. Do I have similar hopes as Zuffa brass for reconciliation? I suppose, but one wonders if that isn't just intellectual autopilot taking over to think "they'll work it out because they always do".
And for purposes of disclosure: I am a DirecTV customer. In fact, I upgraded in January to one of their HD packages after purchasing a new television. Part of the motivation for my upgrade was Versus in HD, which I confess to enjoying greatly during WEC broadcasts. This doesn't make me regret my purchasing decision on a 24 month contract for HD service, but it does have the odd effect of reinforcing how utterly bootleg the fledgling Versus appears next to ESPN.
Oh yeah: props to Dish Network for helping out even if just a little.