The network has gotten better ratings this season with some of the series in Stanley Cup odds going seven games.
2010 Stanley Cup betting is down to the final four teams and many of those games are on Versus. Versus has not had much luck in the five years of their NHL contract but they have made some progress this year. What hurt them this year was a dispute with DirecTV but fortunately for Versus that dispute ended before the 2010 Stanley Cup betting playoffs began.
In the first two rounds of Stanley Cup betting, Versus had their highest viewership. In fact, it is the highest viewership for the NHL since 1994. The ratings are up 25 percent from last year. In the conference semifinals, Versus had 1.04 million viewers which was up from last year. “When we first started, there were a lot of naysayers who said we weren’t big enough to deliver to these audiences,” said Jamie Davis, president of Versus. “I think we’ve proven ourselves.”
The NHL got more visibility on ESPN and ESPN 2 when it was carried on those two networks but in the last year of their contract, the average viewership had dipped below what Versus is getting now. When the games were on ESPN 2 the numbers were really poor. ESPN would have kept the NHL but they didn’t want to pay for it. Versus stepped in and paid the NHL more money than ESPN was willing to pay and things are now going well for the network. The current three-year deal with Versus and NBC goes through next year but negotiations are already underway for the next one.
“Versus has provided a home for hockey, particularly in the playoffs,” said NHL CEO John Collins, “Now you have the casual fan finding Versus.”
ESPN might want to get back into doing hockey but they don’t want it as an everyday sport. Versus is giving the NHL the type of coverage that ESPN never would.
The conference finals in 2010 Stanley Cup betting are mainly on Versus. Even two games of the Stanley Cup Finals will be on Versus. What hurts the network a little bit is that Washington and Pittsburgh are gone and that Montreal is not a popular team in the United States.