CBS Sports has hired ESPN veteran David Berson to run its college sports network.
Most recently executive vice president programming, planning and strategy at ESPN, Berson has been named president of CBS College Sports and executive vice president of CBS Sports. He will be engaged in all aspects of CBS Sports, Berson will have day-to-day responsibilities for running CBS College Sports Network.
Reporting to Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, Berson assumes his new roles on Jan. 3.
Steve Herbst, who had been serving as executive vice president and general manager of CBS College Sports Network, will be leaving his post at the end of the year. Herbst joined CBS College Sports Network in June 2008 from his post as senior vice president and general manager of broadcasting at NBA TV. Herbst began running the channel just just two months after Tony Petitti, then CBS's No. 2 sports executive behind McManus, left to become head of MLB Network. Some see Berson perhaps assuming that mantle down the line.
Formerly known as College Sports Television, CBS College Sports Network was reorganized into CBS Sports early in 2008, adopting its current moniker in March of that year.
Berson, 38, comes to CBS with 16 years of experience at ESPN, where he began his career as an intern during college and later worked in various capacities in programming, affiliate sales and marketing and business development.
Berson, unitl late last year, co-ran ESPN's programming department and was responsible for programming strategy, scheduling, development and driving audience consumption for all of ESPN's domestic TV networks, as well as for ESPN's digital media platforms. Berson had ultimate responsibility for determining the level of ESPN's commitment to a specific sport or programming concept, including events and support programming. He also had responsibility for developing, launching and managing new businesses, including its college network ESPNU, and the programmer's emerging high school sports business.
"David's fresh perspective and distinguished record of success will be a tremendous asset to CBS Sports' industry-leading portfolio," said McManus in announcing the hire. "He has expertise across the many disciplines of sports media and has launched the kind of collegiate sports programming channels that will help CBS College Sports achieve even greater success. As our portfolio of brands continues to expand and thrive, I'm very pleased to have David by my side and I look forward to his insight, counsel and contributions."
The opportunity to work with McManus holds signifiant appeal for Berson as well.
"Sean has done a great job as sports have changed over the years and CBS Sports along with them," Berson said in an interview. "His vision for the future is one of the things that attracted me to the job. I want to work with Sean, learn from him. It's something I'm looking forward to."
McManus also thanked Herbst for his role in growing CBS College Sports Network.
"Steve has played a key role in the management of CBS College Sports Network during a time of great growth, helping make it the profitable franchise that it is today," said McManus. "We're very thankful for all his many contributions and have no doubt he will have success in whatever he chooses to take on next."
Noted Berson: "Steve and his team have done a great job in terms of growing the network [now approaching 40 million homes], creating great content and driving it to profitability. I'm looking forward to dive in and find ways to make it better."
Asked about the stranglehold his former employer has on much of national college sports rights, Berson said: "CBS College Sports Network is a tremendous asset with a lot of growth potential. There are lots of ways to continue its growth, from rights, ideas, creating new shows. The college sports fan is rabid and we'll find new ways to give them more content."
Going into his new job, Berson view his duties with CBS Sports and the college network as hand in hand. "CBS Sports is not one platform. There is CBS broadcast, CBS College Sports Network, several Web sites, mobile," he said. "I, and I believe everyone at CBS, look at sports as on large platform to work from together."
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