VOD, Broadband Fall Into CSTV Game Plan

CSTV: College Sports Television, the 24-hour network devoted to 25 men's and women's sports, launches Feb. 23 with an interesting game plan: broadband and video-on-demand will represent components of the offering.

CSTV will have rights to more than 10,000 games and events throughout the year, but will only be able to run a small percentage of them, perhaps 500 to 1,000, on the linear network, co-founder and CEO Brian Bedol said. "We're going to be able to run on the linear network a fraction of what's available to us. With broadband and VOD, we'll localize and focus on material that may not justify coverage on the national linear feed."

As part of affiliate discussions, CSTV is talking to MSOs about taking the 24-by-7 linear feed, and perhaps five to 10 hours per week for both VOD and broadband Internet platforms. The VOD and broadband content would be more localized or regionalized content.

For instance, an Iowa State wrestling tournament or a south Florida track meet might appear as a 10- to 15-minute highlight segment on a wrestling or track show on the national feed. But the entire event or meet would run on cable system local VOD servers in the respective markets of Iowa and Florida.

The same would be true for Internet content, where operators would carry content specific to their area on their cable-modem platforms. Bedol said some content would appear on CSTV.com, while other content would be specific to a local MSO's high-speed service and placed on local servers.

The later technology holds that much more allure because so many college campuses are wired for broadband already. Recent college graduates also are a logical fan base since many alumni are passionate about their school and have now grown used to broadband speeds. "It's really a way to penetrate the college alumni market deeply," Bedol said. "You have the passion and the loyalty."

Bedol also sees a market for current college athletes and the would-be college athletes in high school. Save for football and basketball, high school athletes, whether they are men or women, don't get exposure to prospective college sports teams they may be interested in. But hundreds of thousands of athletes and their families fall into that category each year, Bedol said.

The national feed also can help promote what CSTV has available on broadband and VOD, Bedol said. Bedol hopes to have the VOD and broadband content up and running within six months of the launch of the linear network

CSTV also won't play favorites between men's and women's sports, Bedol said, gearing for equal coverage of both. Save for college basketball, there is very little women's college sports on traditional cable and broadcast television. And even on the men's side, popular sports like baseball, soccer and lacrosse only get national exposure for championship games, not regular season or playoff tournament action.

"The goal is to make CSTV the home for college sports," Bedol said. "This destination for college sports fans has never existed before."

CSTV has signed on with 25 conferences, including the Big 10, Big 12, Atlantic 10 and Western Athletic, among others. Games could range from the high-profile football and basketball, Bedol said, to wrestling and gymnastics. There are other college sports, such as women's ice hockey, skiing and a 70-school rodeo circuit — believe it or not — that also will get there due on CSTV, Bedol said.