New York -- CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus expects the launch of Fox Sports 1 in August to make a lot of noise, but he's not changing the strategy of his cable competitor CBS Sports Network in light of the crowding field, he told attendees at Wednesday's Sports Business and Technology Summit presented by B&C, Multichannel News and TV Technology.
"There are a lot of competitors in this space," McManus said in a keynote moderated by B&C deputy editor Michael Malone. "It may very well be that in the future -- and we've done this with Turner -- that we do deals in the future with NBC Sports Network or NBC or Fox Sports 1. We're not directly responding to what they're doing by changing our altering our strategy at the sports network right now."
Unlike NBC and Fox, who are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in sports rights, CBS Sports Network has taken a different tack, opting to pick up smaller properties like major league lacrosse and Professional Bull Riders and hiring talent like Jim Rome and Doug Gottlieb to helm studio shows.
"We are trying to build our network more slowly and more strategically. We're not in a position right now in our corporation and we don't want to invest that much money," McManus said. "At some point we'll be in a position to compete for the highest-level rights, but right now we have a different philosophy."
So far, the network has grown from 22 million subscribers to 50 million under the watch of David Berson, who earlier this month was promoted to president of CBS Sports. McManus initially hired the former ESPN executive in 2011 with the intention of grooming him for the top job.
"As much as I love my job, succession planning at CBS is very important," McManus said. "He will slowly assume more of the day-to-day responsibilities, but I'm not going anywhere for a while."
And while NBC outbid Fox and ESPN for a $250-million, three-year deal to broadcast the English Premier League, McManus praised the sports ascendency that while not capable of rivaling the NFL or college football, has grown into an important niche TV property.
"It has passionate fans. Soccer is not, in my opinion, going to be mainstream, every single week on network television, but it has a big impact on cable television and the big events like the World Cup can have a big event on network television," he said. "It has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of its value when you're building a cable network."
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