CBS Sports has big plans for Doug Gottlieb as the centerpiece to their initiative to join the crowded cable sports field. When CBS lured Gottlieb away from ESPN, they announced that not only would his radio show move to CBS Sports Radio, not only would he do NCAA Tournament games for CBS and work in the studio, but he would also have his own television show on CBS Sports Network. Basically, he'll be the next most visible person at CBS Sports behind Jim Nantz. Mind. Blown.
Now we know the details of Gottlieb's CBSSN show per a CBS announcement, and the results are quite surprising…
"CBS Sports Network’s new live, late night show, LEAD OFF, which will air weekdays from 12:00-1:00 AM, ET, debuts Monday, Oct. 22. The show has added Allie LaForce as co-host, teaming with Doug Gottlieb. LEAD OFF will feature commentary and debate on the top stories and news with a focus on the next day’s conversation.
Gottlieb and LaForce will lead off together this week as contributors on ROME, which airs on CBS Sports Network from 6:00-6:30 PM, ET.
LaForce previously worked for Fox 8 News in Cleveland, Ohio as a sports anchor, as well as a color analyst and sideline reporter for the regional sports network SportsTime Ohio. She also has been a studio host covering the Mid-American Conference and various high school championships."
LaForce is also a former Miss Teen USA and a very interesting hire for CBS coming from the local sports scene in Ohio. We've chronicled the programming vacuum that is CBS Sports Network before as they sit a very distant fourth behind ESPN, NBC, and Fox in cable sports amongst the major networks. The network really has nothing to hang its hat on aside from Jim Rome, and his ratings are nonexistent at this point.
That's why I'm still trying to wrap my head around this late night move for Gottlieb, pairing him with a young, attractive newcomer. Why would CBS Sports Network tuck away their big hire at the midnight hour and attempt to compete in late night? At first glance it doesn't make too much sense, you don't put a guy who's supposed to be a star figure at a fledgling cable network on at midnight. But, perhaps CBS realizes they can't compete at any other time in the day and would have a chance to pull in a larger share of viewers against less competition.
My distaste for mixing sports and late night is similar to what I imagine it'd be like to drink battery acid. However, I've caught a bit of Unite on ESPNU and the show is not quite the epic disaster I anticipated. That said, it looks like Gottlieb's new show will be a run-of-the-mill news/converstaion/debate show, just at a different time of day. I wouldn't anticipate any earth shattering breaking of the mold to occur.
With Unite the only real late night talk competition, perhaps CBS can own the timeslot for people looking for an alternative. In that sense, it's a targeted move by CBS who realizes they simply can't compete on a larger scale at the moment. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see CBS try to create a SportsNation Cowherd-Beadle dynamic with Gottlieb and Allie LaForce, the only question is whether anyone will be able to find it and actually watch it develop.