Let’s get this straight first off: NBC Sports is not trying to supplant ESPN as the worldwide leader as it reshapes Versus, its new corporate sibling under the Comcast umbrella.
Not for now, anyway.
“ESPN does an amazing job,’’ said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and Versus. “I’m a fan. I love what they do. I’m not ashamed of that. We’re far, far from being in that dialogue.
“We’re an alternative right now and that’s what we’re going to be . . . We are a place people can go to and now they’re going to get good quality.’’
To that end – and in preparation for Versus’ Jan. 2 rechristening as NBC Sports Network – Miller has been adding content aggressively to reinvent what mostly has been a cable sports backwater other than for its NHL coverage.
Thursday night will bring what he called “a signature property’’ in “NFL Turning Point,’’ a joint effort with NFL Films that will focus on key moments in the previous weekend’s games. Dan Patrick hosts.
“It’s not for the casual fan,’’ Miller said. “It’s for the fan who wants to learn and get deep inside.’’
The premiere features Darrelle Revis’ interception late in the Jets’ victory over the Cowboys. Revis was miked and is heard interacting with receiver Dez Bryant.
Versus also has added a nightly slate of chat shows called “NBC Sports Talk,’’ and a weekly sports business show. It will carry NHL, MLS and the Olympics, among other things, in the coming months.
The network also is expected to make a bid when the NFL shops a new early season Thursday night package, probably sometime next year.
“We’re starting to make our moves,’’ Miller said. “It takes a long time to turn a ship in another direction."