SBJ/November 14-20, 2011/Media

CBS Sports Network to put NLL games in prime time

Add the National Lacrosse League to CBS Sports Network’s burgeoning roster of lacrosse properties.

The nine-team indoor lacrosse circuit has signed a two-year deal that will see it get eight games, including its championship contest, on CBS Sports Network in April and May. The new deal is a barter arrangement, under which both sides will sell air time, and it puts the NLL on at a regular time slot at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

“We’ve never had a regular prime-time TV slot in the history of the league,’’ said NLL Commissioner George Daniel. “It’s really what we were looking for in a new TV partner.”

Last year, the NLL had nine games, including its championship game, televised on Versus; seven started at 2 p.m. ET, while two began at 4:30 p.m.

“Just like any sport, you want broad TV exposure, and then it’s just a question of building your audience by promoting your stars,” said Hillary Mandel, senior vice president of programming and distribution at IMG Media. IMG handles NLL broadcasting and sponsorship.

With the NLL, and a recent deal with the outdoor Major League Lacrosse to broadcast 14 games during its next season (see SportsBusiness Journal, Nov. 7-13), along with a schedule of college lacrosse games, the recently rebranded CBS Sports Network is establishing itself as a destination for lacrosse lovers.

“We’re making a big lacrosse commitment at the college and pro levels, because while it’s seen a lot of growth recently, we still see a lot of potential remaining,” said CBS Sports Network President David Berson.

Lacrosse’s top event, the NCAA Final Four, is on ESPN, which also carried more than 30 collegiate lacrosse matches on its ESPNU channel this year.

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