Exclusive: DirecTV/Versus Dispute Likely to End Next Week [UPDATED]

By CagePotato contributor Jonathan Snowden

Thousands of MMA fans will turn on their television Saturday night, looking for some manly action like WEC 47 or Road House and come up empty. That’s probably because they foolishly purchased DirecTV, not knowing that the provider would soon cut Versus, home to ice hockey, second-rate racing leagues, rodeo, and cage fighting.

Luckily, that’s about to change. Sources close to the situation tell CagePotato that the dispute will come quietly to an end next week, with DirecTV subscribers once again able to purchase Versus as part of a special sports tier. While it won’t come in time for this weekend’s WEC card, MMA fans with DirecTV should have the opportunity to purchase the channel by the time the UFC runs its first event on the network later this month.

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The agreement brings to an end a long and arduous six months without the WEC. But what was the fuss all about? Why did I have to squint at Urijah Faber in a tiny box on my computer screen, afraid of Lorenzo Fertitta looking over my shoulder? Remember when you watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and were immediately bored when the dispute in question involved “trade routes?” The story we’re about to tell is similar.

Versus and DirecTV, a satellite television provider with more than 18 million customers, couldn’t come to an agreement over the phallic-sounding “penetration rate.” Long story short, Versus wants to be available to as many customers as possible. DirecTV wants to put the network on a special sports tier that would require customers to pay a premium for the content. It looks like Versus may capitulate and decide some DirecTV subscribers are better than none. Or maybe it will be DirecTV caving in to pressure from hundreds of new hockey fans in a post-Olympic boom. Either way, MMA fans win, just in time for the WEC’s great push towards pay-per-view.

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Update: A Versus spokesman confirmed negotiations were taking place but indicated that they were not hopeful of a settlement by April.