CBS Sports picks CSTV

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College Sports Television Networks is no longer in a league of its own.

The CBS Corp.-owned sports media company has been absorbed into the parent company's CBS Sports division. CSTV, which CBS acquired in 2005, will now be overseen by Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, and Tony Petitti, exec VP and executive producer, CBS Sports, who will have day-to-day management responsibilities.

CBS and CSTV make for a natural operational fit given the latter brand's focus on collegiate athletics for cable TV and online. CBS already has some of NCAA's sporting events in house between the Division I Men's Basketball Championship and SEC football.

In an interview Thursday, Petitti told The Hollywood Reporter that it was the upcoming NCAA tournament that made CBS realize that it was a good time to combine.

"Both organizations are ready for this and it makes sense," Petitti said.

CBS is looking at the programming and production and will see how it can increase CSTV's sales and distribution, which sits north of 25 million households. There's no talk of job losses right now.

"That's not what this is about. This is about growing an asset," he said.

CSTV will at least for the time being stay at its Chelsea Piers production facility.

"It serves what they need right now," he said.

CSTV founder Brian Bedol will shift out of his oversight role, but will stay on at CBS as a "senior adviser" to CBS president-CEO Leslie Moonves and help transition the business to new leadership. It was Bedol who brought CSTV, then an independent network, to the attention of Moonves.

"CSTV is one of the great brands in college sports and a real asset to CBS Corporation," Moonves said. "I want to thank Brian for all he has done with CSTV, and I look forward to working with Sean and Tony as we bring this extraordinary brand to the next level."

CBS' absorption of CSTV is akin to the arrangement at Walt Disney Co., where ABC Sports and ESPN have merged operations, though in that case it is the cable brand that maintains oversight rather than the broadcast division. CBS has been down this road before, absorbing Internet property Sportsline, which has since retired its brand in favor of CBSSports.com.

CSTV is expected to retain its brand identity.

"It's got brand equity," Petitti said. "It's on the air as CSTV, and we're trying to put together the resources of the two divisions to help CSTV grow, leverage on the programming side, the sales side, and bringing them over to CSTV."

Andrew Wallenstein reported from Los Angeles; Paul J. Gough reported from New York.
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