CBS College Shifts Focus to Live-Event Coverage in HD

By Carolyn Braff
CBS College Sports Network is heading in a new direction. Four months after Steve Herbst took the helm as executive VP, the 24-hour college-sports network has shifted its focus from studio programming to live-event coverage, making a comprehensive commitment to high-definition. Having announced last week plans to close the studio between the end of college-football season and the beginning of the NCAA men’s-basketball tournament,
College will rely on its live-event production to keep the network moving forward.
“Our focus for the next few months is going to really be on high-definition production of our live events,” Herbst explains. “We are going to be back in the studio to produce our March Madness Central show in March and then re-evaluate where we’re going to be after that.”
Herbst’s goal is to have as much of the network’s programming produced in high-definition as possible as soon as possible. At this point, there is no timetable for determining when the studio might come back on-line and whether it will be fully HD-ready if it does, but further evaluations will be made throughout the spring.
“Our goal is to provide as much entertainment value in the college-sports world as we can,” Herbst says. “At the present time, and certainly in the near future, it’s to really become focused as a live-event, live-game network, with as much of that as we can do in high-definition. That is what would best serve our audience right now, our advertisers, our partners in satellite and cable, and all of our fans and clients.”
The operations department at
College is investigating the most efficient way to get a new crop of HD games produced, and a new 2009 HD-production schedule is forthcoming.
Although Olympic sports certainly have a place on the CBS College Sports Network, Herbst looks to football and basketball as the immediate HD-production darlings.
“For the short term, our focus will be on the football and basketball that we can do in hi-def,” Herbst says. “Not to say that we’re going to short-change our Olympic sports in any way. We will perhaps produce them with a different angle than the traditional way you would look at things — maybe using different camera angles, different access. They will not necessarily be in hi-def right off the bat, but we will use some creative ways to look at how we’re doing those sports.”
College’s football slate for the remainder of the season includes matchups from Conference
USA, the Mountain West Conference, the U.S. Naval Academy, Division II, and a Friday-night package of high school games.
The network’s men’s- and women’s-basketball coverage, which for this season includes a comprehensive package of games produced in HD, kicks off in November. The network truly stakes its claim during basketball season, when it broadcasts more than 100 live games featuring teams from the Mountain West Conference, Conference
USA, Atlantic 10, Big East, and Division II, including six matchups with preseason-Top-25 team UNLV. National runner-up
Memphis also finds a home on
College Sports, as do semifinal games from the Conference USA and Mountain West tournaments.
College ’s relationship with CBS Sports is most apparent during basketball season.
“Come March, when we’ve got 75 hours of live programming coming out of the studio with live look-ins and behind-the-scenes footage and analysis, it’s kind of the perfect spot where we’re going to work hand-in-hand with CBS Sports,” Herbst says. “We share facilities and people and production staff every day. It’s one of my great goals is to work together as a team. I think that, in general, it’s important for this network to leverage that association and incorporate as much of that as I can into this network.”
After the madness of March calms down, Herbst says, he and his team will re-evaluate the network and hopefully have a better view of where it is headed by summer 2009.

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