Comcast is making a run at ESPN.It is attempting to buy the rights to eight NFL games and air them on Versus.
According to Sports Business Journal, the NFL is shopping eight early season Thursday night games, with Comcast (Versus) and Turner (TNT) as the front-runners to ink a potential $700 million per year deal.
Versus has the reputation of being obscure, hard to find, and generally second-rate. But Comcast looks determined to shape Versus into what ESPN is for Disney. And getting into business with the NFL will get the channel the viewers it needs to cultivate the sense of legitimacy that it currently lacks.
Comcast looks serious about making its sports division into a powerhouse.
It raised eyebrows a few weeks ago by outbidding Disney and News Corp. for the Olympics. In addition, Comcast-owned NBC Sports already has the rights to Sunday Night Football, the NHL, a few country club sports, and the Triple Crown. And with Comcast’s existing network of local sports channels, it’s clear that it has the resources to challenge the sports media monolith that is ESPN.
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