College hockey fans may soon rejoice as Versus is reportedly close to a deal that will allow the channel to broadcast Division 1 games on Friday and Saturday nights, according to College Hockey News. Versus, which will be re-branding itself as NBC Sports Sports Network in January 2012, has reached agreement with some but not all of the five D-1 leagues and is expected to make a formal announcement once all the deals are complete.
CBS College Sports already has a similar arrangement with the leagues.
Working with national networks is tricky, because most of the leagues have existing local deals. Hockey East, for example, has a contract with New England Sports Network (NESN), the CCHA has a deal with Fox Sports Detroit, and the WCHA has one with Fox Sports North. In addition, individual schools have a variety of local deals. In most cases, it is written in those contracts that those local or regional networks have precedence – i.e. the first right to pick which games it wants to broadcast.