We've long chronicled NBC Sports Network's very public desire to build a legitimate national 24/7 cable sports network to challenge ESPN. However, a predecessor to NBC's cable sports outfit has remained largely in the shadows – CBS Sports Network.
Yes, CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports, formerly CSTV) has added the high profile name of Jim Rome, but aside from Rome and a Tim Brando Show simulcast…. the network really has very little to offer. Just look at this week's schedule.
68 of 114 possible hours of programming are replayed games from 6 AM Wednesday morning till 12 AM Monday morning. That's almost 60% of network airtime!!! That's not to mention all the replays of Rome throughout the night and the Tim Brando replay. All totalled, CBS Network will air 20 of 114 hours that are live or premiere programming, most of it being Rome & Brando (Major League Lacrosse and high school basketball highlighting live sports). That's just 17.5% of programming.
However, there is the faintest gleam of light at the end of the live sports programming tunnel. CBS Sports Network will air live US Open tennis this year. Via USA Today…
"Following the trend of broadcast networks using their cable networks for expanded coverage of big events, CBS will use its cable sports channel for additional coverage of the final tennis major of the season, the U.S. Open.
CBS will use its CBS Sports Network, which is available in about 47 million of the USA's 114 million TV households, to carry outer-court coverage of third-round and fourth-round matches on Labor Day weekend, which is Sept. 1-3. CBS will continue to carry the marquee matches on those days."
This makes complete sense for the fledging cable network, and for CBS as a whole. They already have rights to the tournament so it's not like they have to acquire anything here. While the planned coverage is by no means extensive or likely to be star-studded, at least it's a start for some interesting live sports programming for CBS Sports Network. As NBC continues in its push for NBCSN and Fox waits in the wings, it'll bear watching to see if CBS is a more aggressive player in the cable field.