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DirecTV and Versus: It’s Getting Ugly…

Manufacturers and retailers - including those peddling TV sports - routinely bicker over how much they charge each other.

Sometimes, the rest of us get to follow along at home. Like after midnight Monday, when satellite TV carrier DirecTV, with about 14 million subscribers, offered its viewers this message when they tried to find a certain sports channel: Versus "has forced us to take down the channel because we will not submit to (its) unfair and outrageous demands."

In a statement, DirecTV called Versus "a paid programming and infomercial channel with occasional sporting events" that was "simply piggish" in asking for a rate hike.

Versus, owned by cable operator Comcast and whose upcoming events include upcoming Texas-Wyoming and Florida State-Brigham Young football games, would see its distribution fall to about 62 million homes with DirecTV's exit. In a statement, Versus says it wants DirecTV to carry it "at the same market price" other distributors pay.

DirecTV pays Versus about 30 cents per subscriber - less than a tenth of what ESPN charges some distributors - as it has made headway in reaching homes by adding events such as NHL games. Versus says it wants DirecTV to keep its distribution "comparable" to what it had.

Such TV sports tiffs rarely end with group hugs.

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