SBJ/January 9-15, 2012/Media

Comcast RSN getting its own ‘SportsTalk’

It’s easy to see the influence NBC Sports has had on Comcast’s national sports networks since last year’s merger became official, from the renamed NBC Sports Network to the Golf Channel on NBC brand, but Comcast’s regional sports networks largely have remained unaffected.

Until now.

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic will launch a daily talk show patterned after NBC’s “Sports-Talk” brand. “SportsTalk Live” debuts at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 23, with a logo, branding, graphics and music that mirror “NBC SportsTalk,” which is carried on NBC Sports Network. The set also will look the same.

Brian Mitchell (left) and Ivan Carter will host the program, which begins Jan. 23 on CSN Mid-Atlantic.
Photo by: COMCAST SPORTSNET
NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus described the half-hour show as a test, and said he expects other Comcast RSNs to roll it out eventually. It’s not clear when other markets will launch their own versions.

“We think there’s great content — news and information — that allows our entire portfolio to be a stronger voice in the sports world,” Lazarus said.

The local shows will not necessarily mirror the national show, which consists of former CSN Mid-Atlantic anchor Russ Thaler anchoring a news-based 30 minutes. Rather, “SportsTalk Live” will feature more opinions and debate, network executives said.

“When NBC Sports Network launched this show, we thought it had great branding and a great format to do at a local level,” said Rebecca Schulte, senior vice president and general manager of the RSN.

Network executives would not compare the new show with other ones, but it sounds similar to a cross between ESPN’s popular “Pardon the Interruption” and “NBC SportsTalk.”

Former Redskin Brian Mitchell and former Washington Post staff writer Ivan Carter will host the show, which essentially takes the place of “Washington Post Live,” which ended its five-year run on the network last month. It will focus on Mitchell’s and Carter’s opinions and debate. Unlike “Washington Post Live,” the show will not have many outside guests. When it uses guests, it will rely on the RSN’s reporters, as well as on-air talent on NBC’s other sports channels.

“We always wanted to do more with Brian,” said Cesar Aldama, senior director of news for CSN Mid-Atlantic. “They have great chemistry on-air together.”

The show will run Monday through Friday at 10:30 p.m. and will encore at 12:30 a.m. Like most shows launching these days, it will have a heavy social media component. Network executives were meeting last week to firm up those details.

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