"It's good for the league. In the long run, it's going to be great for the league," said C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowski to Doug Smock of The Charleston Gazette. "I think this puts a stamp on Marshall's move to Conference USA," said Marshall's head football coach Mark Snyder. Ron Jirsa, the Herd's head men's basketball coach agrees with his fellow MU coach. "I think with this fusion of internet and television that CSTV had a great deal of value," said Jirsa. "It was a forward-thinking outlet for college athletics. The CBS purchase validates that. CSTV was in front of the trend of internet TV and now CBS is at the forefront with this purchase."
Banowski went on to tell Anthony Hanshew of Huntington's The Herald-Dispatch, "What this deal means is that a business plan, which was fairly ambitions, in now backed by such a solid partner that it's almost certain to roll out as planned. If a Marshall fan was wondering if they were really getting into a great television environment for athletics, now they know in the long run it's going to happen...at a more rapid pace." Bob Marcum, the Director of Athletics at Marshall University, was also pleased with the announcement. "I think what this deal does is remove any doubt's of Herd fans and other observers around the nation about the stability and survival of CSTV. With Viacom and CBS behind CSTV, it gives you a huge amount of leverage with regards to distribution," Marcum told The Herald-Dispatch in Friday's edition. Conference USA entered into a five-year partnership with CSTV and ESPN for televsion rights, beginning in 2005. CSTV is also involved in streaming games live from C-USA games in various sports through it's "All-Access" package on the internet.
The transaction for CBS to take control of CSTV will be completed after certain governmental approvals are obtained, and after the split of Viacom into two discrete entities.That transaction should be completed by the end of 2005. At that time, consideration for the transaction will be in CBS Corporation Class B non-voting common stock. The new cable programming entity will be operated by CSTV's founder and CEO, Brian Bedol, who will report to Moonves. The acquisition includes:
*A digital cable network featuring 30 men's and women's college sports events and nearly 15 million subscribers (by year's end) and growing; license deals now include numerous sports agreements with colleges, universities and conferences across the nation;
*Online properties consisting of a network of more than 250 official college athletic websites -- each maintained and managed for its institution by CSTV -- featuring full video and audio, news, scores, community elements and e-commerce for retail college sports-related products;
*A fast-growing website, www.CSTV.com, that supports the cable networks and other online properties. In its most recent analysis, Comscore Media Metrix ranked the CSTV.com network as one of the top ten destinations with the greatest prior monthly increase in unique visitors during the month of September 2005, with a 43 percent increase from August, and more than 7.5 million visitors, which could combine with www.cbssportsline.com, which had nearly 7 million other "hits" in September of 2005;
*Regional College Sports Networks to be launched in 2006, featuring the sporting events of the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA. It will include the Mountain West Conference and members like the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Colorado State University, UNLV and others; and Conference USA members such as the University of Memphis,the University of Southern Mississippi, Marshall University, East Carolina University, the University of Houston, UTEP, Tulane University, SMU and others.
"I am very excited about this acquisition, which brings a new dimension to our efforts in sports and the digital space as well," said Moonves. "We're not only getting hugely valuable assets here, we're acquiring a superb management team that has a proven record in building lucrative sports television franchises. College athletics and the online community it generates represent one of the biggest sectors in sports television, and CSTV has made tremendous strides in capturing this market. We think it's a natural fit for our company and we're confident that, as part of CBS, it will continue to grow and compete even more aggressively. As the founder of The Classic Sports Network and other ventures, Brian has proven himself to be a truly creative business manager with a track record of getting things done. I am particularly pleased that he and his partner Chris Bevilacqua come along with this deal. They will be a valuable addition to the CBS team."
Brian Bedol is CEO of CSTV Networks, Inc. (www.CSTV.com). Through its numerous platforms, CSTV provides more live college sports games, events, news, information, analysis and broadband content, and reaches more college sports fans than any other company. Prior to co-founding CSTV, Bedol was the Creator, Co-Founder and CEO of Classic Sports Network, now known as ESPN Classic. Classic Sports Network, a cable channel launched to critical and popular acclaim in May 1995, is considered one of the cable industry's greatest against-the-odds success stories. It was sold to ESPN in October of 1997.
"CSTV was built to offer college sports enthusiasts access to content for which they have passion, whether it be on television, the Internet or any platform, for that matter," said Bedol. "Through this transaction, we will now have the ability to help those consumers transition from the mass media of CBS Sports to the personalized media of the Web, and many points in between. Taking our partnership with CBS to this level is the ideal way to solidify our growing business. Chris and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about the exciting days that lie ahead."
Moonves further noted that the new collegiate sports business would work closely with the Company's existing operations at CBS Sports and CBS Digital Media, assuring that the new cable sports operations are fully integrated into CBS's activities in those arenas. With this acquisition, CBS Corporation will have a larger sports Web audience than any other online medium, totalling 19 million users, according to the release from CBS. "Putting our existing resources and events together with these great cable and online assets makes tremendous sense," Moonves added. "In bringing our operations under one roof, our presence in the college sports community grows even stronger, and the programming possibilities on national cable, regional sports networks and the Internet are very exciting indeed. Add to that our ability to leverage the best advertising sales organization in the business to build new revenue across all our television platforms, and you have a truly great deal."
CSTV Networks, Inc. is the leading digital sports media company, connecting more fans to more college sports than any other company. Its many platforms for programming distribution include CSTV: College Sports TV: televising regular-season and championship events for 30 men's and women's college sports; CSTV.com: including its network of nearly 250 official athletic sites; CSTV All Access: online and pay-per-view subscription services providing live audio and video of more than 6,000 events annually; as well as satellite television and radio, in-flight entertainment, wireless networks and more. Further information is available at www.CSTV.com.
Upon the split of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), the CBS Corporation will be a mass media company with constituent parts that reach back to the beginnings of the broadcast industry, as well as newer businesses that operate on the leading edge of the media industry. It will have operations in virtually every field of media and entertainment, including broadcast television networks CBS and UPN; cable television outlet Showtime; local television (Viacom Television Stations Group); television production and syndication (Paramount Television and King World); radio (Infinity Broadcasting); advertising on out-of-home media (Viacom Outdoor); publishing giant Simon & Schuster; and Paramount's theme parks, such as Paramount's Kings Island, near Cincinnati, Ohio.