Versus adds programs for Friday

Florio looks at NFL while Rovell examines sports business

NBC’s sports cabler Versus, anxious to ramp up its programming slate to better compete with ESPN and Fox’s cable networks, is set to launch two original shows in September. Both will air on Fridays.

The cabler, which recently announced a rebrand as NBC Sports Network effective Jan. 2, will go forward with an hourlong NFL roundup show featuring Mike Florio, editor of the popular pigskin NBC-owned website Pro Football Talk. He will offer analysis and assessment on an assortment of games, players and trends.

Florio, who did a very short stint at ESPN and frequently appears on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” program, is well regarded in the sports community for his NFL insight and expertise, and many in the media use him as a news source on player movement throughout the league.

The still untitled show will air Fridays from 6-7 p.m. throughout the NFL season. It will be followed by a half-hour skein featuring CNBC reporter Darren Rovell, who covers sports for the business cabler.

Rovell, who also has a blog titled “Sports Biz,” will look at the off-the-field financial aspects of sports. He has been at the net since 2006, handling sports news on a daily basis for CNBC as well ads anchoring several documentaries.

Versus is also developing a weeknight hourlong sports roundup show that will air at 6 p.m., but there is no start date. Details are sketchy, but sources say the cabler will use its Comcast affiliates to provide information on teams in specific cities across the country.

At the recent Television Critics Assn. confab, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus hinted about the program.

“As we start to build out the NBC Sports brand on national cable platforms over the next few weeks, you will see a slate of programming coming for the 6 to 7 p.m. block on NBC Sports Network, a slate of programming that will give us daily relevance,” Lazarus said.

NBC declined to comment further.

Versus’ most prominent properties include the National Hockey League, which recently signed up for an additional 10 years, and horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Realizing that the NFL is a tremendous ratings draw, Versus will tap into that fanbase not only with Florio’s show but with a new Thursday studio program titled “NFL Turning Point” — an analysis of the previous week’s games. Program doesn’t have a start date or timeslot, but it’s likely to begin in mid-September, soon after the season launches.