Last week NBCUniversal announced that the TV channel known as “Versus” (formerly OLN or Outdoor Life Network) will become “NBC Sports Network” in January 2012. This change is part of the shake up from NBC and Universal’s merger and Comcast buying NBC. On the positive side, the new channel name promotes consistency among the pieces of the NBC brand. And it makes the network instantly more credible, not a smaller or quirkier channel.
However, Versus was a great name. It was clearly suggestive of sporting coverage. And it was unique and quirky. It does not sound mainstream. It is not an acronym or a simple name. It is not a boring channel name like: MSNBC, National Geographic, ABC Family, Travel Channel, Weather Channel, Fox News, Golf Channel, or Cartoon Network. Versus is a channel name more like E!, Boomerang, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, fuse, Palladium, and others which are fun, playful and suggestive.
By giving up Versus, NBCUniversal is trading the unique for the boring. Was there a middle ground? Couldn’t the channel be called “Versus by NBC Sports” or “NBC Sports presents: Versus”? If I were calling the shots, I would have left Versus along or at least kept it in some form.
Giving up “Versus” is another blunder from NBCUniversal, whose logo does not include the iconic NBC peackock. See my post: Love it or Leave it: NBCUniversal unveils new logo.