IndyCar – DirecTV Drops Versus

vsDirecTV has been in negotiations with Versus over the fee that Versus charges for DirecTV to carry their channel. Yesterday was the last day of their previous contract and no agreement was reached, so as of now the final two IndyCar races of the season will not be available to DirecTV subscribers.

The argument between the two companies boils down like this. DirecTV says Versus cannot justify the price increase they are asking for DirecTV to carry them. Versus claims they have added significant value to their network which merits the price increase. Also muddying the waters is the fact that Versus is wholly owned by Comcast, a cable TV provider that is in direct competition with DirecTV.

Here is what DirecTV has to say about the issue.

I would agree with Versus that they certainly have diversified their lineup of programming over the last few years. To go along with their Outdoor Channel rooted hunting and fishing programs, they have added professional bull fighting, Big 12 college football, the Tour De France, extreme octagon fighting, NHL and IndyCar. But that alone can’t mitigate the fact that DirecTV is in competition with Comcast and does not want to pay higher fees for their channel.

The unfortunate truth is that the IndyCar series was forced into a bad situation last year when ESPN/ABC warned that they were not going to show all the races this season. Versus was the only network that was willing to pay a hefty sum for the rights to show the remaining events. While clearly the Versus broadcast is far superior to anything we have seen out of ABC/ESPN in the last decade, the fact remains that Versus is a struggling newcomer network that is trying to make a play for national prominence, while they are anchored to Comcast. I think it is safe to say that we are seeing the potential worst case scenario downside to the IRL’s contract with Versus.

If I were a DirecTV subscriber, I wouldn’t freak out and change subscribers just yet. We have 19 days until the next IndyCar race. But I would not hesitate to call and inform them that you will be dropping them unless they pick it back up again. If we get to the Motegi race weekend and the deal still isn’t hashed out, then the time would be appropriate for us to don our peasant apparel and take up pitchforks and torches. But we won’t be alone, since all the Hockey and bull riding fans will be joining us.

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10 Thoughts to “IndyCar – DirecTV Drops Versus

  1. I was none too happy about this. I am one of the customers that lost the channel and was forced to watch the race with all of these ridiculous tit-for-tat comments between the companies. Let’s hope for a quick fix! I guess when i put things into perspective though, we do have WRC coming in about a month so who cares right?

  2. The IRL can ill afford any potential loss to their meager viewership numbers. I haven’t yet seen this weekend’s ratings info, but they typically have less viewers for a televised Versus Race than they have attenders at the 500 (< 300,000). They still have time to get it back together. Until then, I doubt too many IRL fans will miss their cage match fighting and sports soup.

  3. ATB73

    1 step forward, 10 steps back, 1 step forward, 10 steps back, …..and repeat. Thanks for joining this excercise in futility.

    Maybe they should sell the whole ball of wax to Brazil. Speedway included.

  4. With all the trouble they are having in solidifying where they will hold the race in Brazil, it sounds to me like our Southern continent friends are hesitant to buy a single race. The whole ball of wax may be up for question.

  5. ATB73

    maybe they wised up.

  6. Bad news is that I live out in the sticks and for good or ill, I’m married to DirecTV. Cable is not an option, and I don’t have the capital set aside to change hardware within the next two weeks. DirecTV *WILL* be hearing from me, rest assured.

  7. Looks like Dish Network has put Versus up as one of their free preview channels for the next 3 months. Maybe they could add some more incentives for DirecTV’ers to switch by putting Versus on the same tier as speed channel. That would save me $120 a year.

  8. Mike

    I am surprised to see that there is little or no support for DirecTV here. Is it not possible that Comcast/Versus are over-charging for their network? Would everyone here be willing to pay a higher monthly fee to DirecTV to have Versus?

  9. Don’t worry Mike, I support Directv and am a loyal customer. I will not be dropping the service if versus fails to return, but I believe that paying an additional 18 cents per customer is not too big for the folks at directv. I am also not too worried because they will be back on the air soon I am sure. With people like Doug calling about Indy, it will be back sooner than rather than later. I would pay the additional 18 cents and that is where the problem is. it is a low price and most would not even notice the extra cost so just sign the deal and add 18 cents to the bill of those who have it on their package. problem solved. Welcome to the site by the way. Good input on an argument that is worth discussion.

  10. Iowa FAN

    Directv is totally distorting its negotiating history with Comcast. Directv is owned by News Corp (Rupert Murdoch). They have been putting the screws to the cable companies for years. The Comcast tactic actually sounds like a page from News Corp’s book.

    In 2007, When the Big Ten Network debuted Echostar, the parent of Dish Network, filed a complaint with the FCC charging that the BigTen Network was price gouging.

    My local cable company (Mediacom) had similar problems. During the ongoing negitiations, They were quoted as saying ” . . . The offers we have given to the BTN and Fox Programming have been rejected, because of price.”

    “One of the things we have offered is to put them on the Family Cable lineup, if we can pay the same average per customer cost that DirecTv and Echostar (Dish Network) are paying across the nation.” (source:

    Kind of interesting that Directv got better pricing from its parent than it offered to a competitor. Apparently they don’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot.

    I am a Directv customer, but I support Versus!

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