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Exclusive Coverage of Stanley Cup Conference Finals Begin Thursday on Versus

Wednesday, May. 7th, 2008

Ratings and Viewership Continue to Rise Through First Two Playoff Rounds

Stamford, CT — VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League, will continue its wall-to-wall coverage of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Conference Finals commence on Thursday, May 8, at 7:30 PM ET. The Detroit Red Wings and the Dallas Stars will begin their battle for the right to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Conference Finals continue on Friday, May 9, at 7:30 PM ET when the Eastern Conference takes center stage as the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins face-off in Game 1 of their intrastate showdown. All Conference Finals telecasts on VERSUS are exclusive.

VERSUS will kick-off the Conference Finals with a special 30-minute “Hockey Central” on May 8 at 7 PM ET, prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Final between Dallas and Detroit. Total viewership for “Hockey Central” during the first two rounds of this postseason has increased 65 percent compared to the first two playoff rounds last year. VERSUS’ Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage will culminate with exclusive coverage of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final. All VERSUS-produced games are produced in hi-definition.

During the Conference Semifinals, in which VERSUS aired eight exclusive games and seven non-exclusive games, the network continued to see significant increases in ratings, total viewership and viewership across all key male demos, as compared to year-ago figures from the second postseason round. VERSUS’ exclusive telecast of Game 4 of the Rangers/Penguins Conference Semifinal series on May 1 garnered a 1.0 household rating and 1,184,589 total viewers, making it the most-watched NHL telecast in network history and the third most-watched telecast overall. Household ratings in the 2008 Conference Semifinals showed an increase of 50 percent, total viewership was up 51 percent and viewership among Men 18-34 (up 77%), Men 18-49 (up 79%) and Men 25-54 (up 84%) all saw dramatic gains. This growth follows a 50-percent increase in household ratings during the regular season and 33 percent in the Conference Quarterfinal round.

The complete schedule for the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final round follows (subject to change):

Thursday	May 8	7:30 PM ET	Dallas at Detroit, Game 1		Western
Friday		May 9	7:30 PM ET	Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 1	Eastern
Saturday	May 10	7 PM ET		Dallas at Detroit, Game 2		Western
Sunday		May 11	7:30 PM ET	Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 2	Eastern
Monday		May 12	8 PM ET		Detroit at Dallas, Game 3		Western
Tuesday		May 13	7:30 PM ET	Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Game 3	Eastern
Wednesday	May 14	8 PM ET		Detroit at Dallas, Game 4		Western
Thursday	May 15	7:30 PM ET	Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Game 4	Eastern
Monday		May 19	8 PM ET		Detroit at Dallas, Game 6*		Western
Tuesday		May 20	7:30 PM ET	Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Game 6*	Eastern 
Wednesday	May 21	7:30 PM ET	Dallas at Detroit, Game 7*		Western
Thursday	May 22	7:30 PM ET	Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 7*	Eastern
Games with (*) are “if necessary” and subject to change as best-of-seven series may be over


The network’s studio show, “Hockey Central,” is hosted by Bill Patrick with Brian Engblom and Keith Jones and provides extensive insight and commentary of the games and what’s happening around the Stanley Cup Playoffs each night. VERSUS will, on occasion, bring players and coaches into the studio to serve as celebrity guest analysts. In the Quarterfinal round, Manny Legace, goaltender for the St. Louis Blues and Rick DiPietro, goaltender for the New York Islanders joined the VERSUS studio crew. Additions in the Conference Final round will be announced as information becomes available.

Among the regular segments of the studio show are the following:

* Keith Jones' Odd Man Rush, Keith’s unique look at the plays and players who have put themselves in the spotlight, whether for good or bad
* Brian Engblom's Reality Check, Brian's personal opinion on NHL issues
* Highlights from games not airing on VERSUS, as well as Plays of the Week
* Parting Shots; where Engblom and Jones debate bullet point debate topics in rapid fire fashion
* Live-Look-Ins wherever possible, bringing viewers live action from games being played concurrently during VERSUS’ telecast
* Features on NHL players away from the ice
* Historical recaps which spotlight the defining and greatest moments in NHL Stanley Cup history

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