Thursday, October 25, 2007

Versus To NHL: Add Ice Fishing, Or Be Dropped

League reportedly weighing ultimatum

New York, NY (Oct. 25) - Versus, the tiny cable network that's beamed into thousands of homes across the country, has issued an ultimatum to the struggling NHL: add ice fishing to your product or we will dump you.

"After looking at our programming lineup, we feel the NHL just isn't fitting well into our theme," Versus VP of Programming Butch Philpot said yesterday at a press conference called at a rabbit-hunting excursion. "But we have given the league an option in order that they remain on our airwaves."

That "option" is to incorporate ice fishing into every NHL game that appears on Versus.

"Easy fix," Philpot said.

When told that NHL arenas are indoors, Philpot wasn't moved.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Philpot said before hushing reporters after hearing some rabbit movement in a nearby clearing.

The Versus ultimatum is yet another blow to the NHL, which was in effect kicked off ESPN because of ratings that were "not only in the toilet, but in the sewage system," Philpot said smugly.

The league is already being chastised for airing its games on Versus, which is primarily an outdoor/extreme sports network, available in nearly 10,000 homes in the U.S.

Versus studio anchor Bill Clement said of the ultimatum, "Personally, I think a between-periods ice fishing competition between, say, Alexander Ovechkin and Dany Heatley isn't a bad idea. But then again, that's just me -- and I don't want to lose my job."

The league is reportedly weighing the ultimatum at their Manhattan headquarters. Sources close to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman say the league is drawing up a counteroffer that would enable the ice fishermen to cross check each other, or engage in otherwise physically aggressive activity while fishing.

Ratings for NHL games on Versus haven't been recorded by traditional, electronic and technological means. Rather, the homes receiving the Versus signal have been visited, door-to-door, each night the NHL airs. Ratings for last week indicated 5% of Versus homes watching hockey, with 95% "unaware" that they could view Versus at all.

Philpot said a new door-to-door poll will be conducted next week, asking customers if they would be more likely to watch the NHL if it incorporated ice fishing.

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