Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 04-08-2011

U.S. cable network Versus will rebrand as the NBC Sports Group, to reflect the ongoing brand integration efforts of the sports arms of the NBCUniversal-Comcast merged company.

Starting on 2 January 2012, Versus will be brought under the NBC brand rubric and be given a new NBC Sports logo.

"This effort is a major step towards a complete strategic alignment of all our platforms and businesses," NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said in a statement. "This is more than just a name change for Versus. It’s a complete repositioning of the brand to provide value for marketers and consumers, as well as all our affiliates and distributors. We want anyone who comes into contact with any of our assets to immediately connect with the NBC Sports brand promise."

Versus has a 10-year carriage deal with the National Hockey League and also features programming from college football and other competitive fare. However, its roots are in hikng, fishing and other active-life activities - it was originally called the Outdoor Life Network. Now, as NBC Sports, it is expected to broaden its palette even further, particularly considering NBC's carriage deal for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

While the rebrand is part of a brand harmonization initiative, right now the changes stop with Versus. NBC also owns 11 regional Comcast SportsNet networks, which will stay as they are for now. However, Lazarus said: "Many will evolve to have the look and feel of our NBC Sports brand and production values."