Key Points NBC's streaming service will be a free, ad-supported product to anyone that subscribes to a pay-TV service. It will launch in
Its programming consisted of hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure shows. In its early days, the channel reached around one million homes and found most of its carriage via the then-infant platforms of direct broadcast satellite services and digital cable. Coverage of the Tour on OLN brought substantially greater viewership to the then fledgling channel, due in part to the then-growing popularity of American rider Lance Armstrong.
OLN's executives believed that bringing Survivor into its lineup would fit well with the new direction it had planned for OLN, and could attract viewership from fans of the show who had watched it on CBS. OLN planned to cover these multi-day events in a similar style to how it covered the Tour, hoping that its coverage might bring "surprise" results for the channel.
With the NFL also shopping a new late-season package of Thursday and Saturday night games to potential broadcasters, speculation began to surface that Comcast would bid on the new NHL contract as its first step to transforming OLN into a mainstream sports channel that could compete with ESPN.
The channel televised a weekly regular-season game for 11 weeks as well as a wild card playoff game. As the network had shifted beyond simply "outdoor" programming, the name "Versus" was intended to represent the common element of competition within its lineup. Among the new programming acquired by Versus was a number of combat sports , beginning with a series of boxing programs promoted by Bob Arum 's Top Rank group.
The channel also began televising Chuck Norris 's World Combat League , a kickboxing promotion where fights are contested in a unique round ring without ropes. Versus entered into a partnership with World Extreme Cagefighting WEC to bring mixed martial arts events to the channel, with the first being broadcast live on June 3, In addition, Versus also added a package of college football games to its lineup, with games from the Mountain West Conference , Pac now Pac and Big 12 conferences.
The channel began to show qualifying regattas in late , aired the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers in , and the America's Cup match between the Louis Vuitton winner and current champions, won by Alinghi of Switzerland in Valencia, Spain.
On January 28, , Versus and the NHL extended their television contract through the —11 season.
The first season Championship aired on November 27, The UFL would return to the channel for a second season in Jon Jones in the Light Heavyweight division.
A countdown show aired the week of a pay-per-view event, usually lasting for one hour, and covering 2—3 of the biggest fights on the card. In August , the UFC announced a new broadcasting deal with the channels of rival Fox Sports , which would begin to take effect in November As part of the acquisition, Versus and Comcast's other sports channels began to be integrated into the NBC Sports division.
Litner began to oversee the channel, in addition to his other duties following the Comcast takeover. Its coverage began with a marathon of three classic Fighting Irish games on March 17, St. Patrick's Day , to serve as a prelude to its coverage of the spring game.
As part of the announcement, Dick Ebersol , the former chairman of NBC Sports, said that Versus would be renamed "within 90 days" in order to reflect the synergy resulting from the merger.
His goal was for NBC Sports Network to become a credible "full-service sports network", with a new lineup of sports news and talk programs, and live event coverage. Ocho Show were dropped from the lineup, as Miller thought that low-brow programming would hurt the channel's credibility.
The channel began an initiative to begin producing new original programming during the transition as well. In July , the network announced its intention to use this abbreviation on an official basis.
The network was criticized by the media for airing such material; while NBC responded by pulling the episode due to its "objectionable" content and stating that it would be more "aggressive" towards the content of future episodes of the program, Under Wild Skies was pulled from the network entirely after Makris made remarks on an NRA-produced webcast comparing critics of the show to Hitler.
Switzerland on June 17, and England vs. Belgium on June