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Olympic Games Provide Versus With Stage To Promote NHL Playoffs

Fans watch NHL action in Versus Olympic spot.February 16, 2010: The NHL is off the ice for the duration of the Winter Olympics while many of its players skate for their respective nations. But Versus, which shares network coverage of the league with NBC, does not want fans to feel left out in the cold.

Now through Feb. 23, Versus will air 30-second spots during Olympic games promoting the Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin in mid-April. In addition, beginning March 2, Versus will air the Honda Drive to the Playoffs, a 30-minute pre-game Hockey Central show prior to each Tuesday night NHL telecast. The series will run through the end of the regular season.

Olympic hockey games are being aired on NBC as well as its family of networks including MSNBC and CNBC. All games will be played at the General Motors Place in Vancouver. The Canadian and U.S. teams are made up entirely of NHL players, and many of the other nations in the Games also have NHL players are their rosters. The Olympic Men's Hockey gold medal game is scheduled for Feb. 28 on NBC.
Versus said it would air at least one 30-second spot during every men's Olympic hockey game. The campaign, "Make It Happen," overseen in-house, was produced by Brett Morgen. Morgen most recently directed Truth in Motion: The U.S. Ski Team's Road to Vancouver, a film produced by Audi that documents the U.S. Ski Team's preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Versus spots will have a bigger media run on local cable in such NHL markets as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The initial spots show fans watching NHL games on TV and their laptops and reenacting events on the ice, such as a kid shooting slap shots in his basement, a man diving over his friends to imitate a goaltender making a save and a guy who bodychecks his buddy into a storefront window. (View them on YouTube here.)

According to Marc Fein, evp-programming, production and business operations for Versus, the network decided to launch and run this campaign during the Olympics "as it’s the perfect opportunity to reach hockey and casual sports fans in a very concentrated way . . . reminding viewers that Versus is the television destination for the most hockey action on TV after the conclusion of the Olympics" on Feb. 28.

Fein also said that Versus would add games to its schedule beginning in March and running through the end of the season.

"We've reached a pivotal point in the NHL season; the trade deadline is set for March 3 and teams are not only jockeying for playoff positioning, but also fighting for their postseason lives," Fein said in a statement. "This is a very exciting time of the year and we thought it was the perfect opportunity to super-serve NHL fans with bonus games and enhanced pre-game analysis."

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