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CBS Sports Network will carry U.S. Open tennis matches next month, marking the first time that the tournament will appear on the cable channel.
Over Labor Day weekend, CBS Sports Network will show outer-court matches during CBS’s live window. The cable channel, in 47 million homes, is allowed to carry live action during CBS’s window even though ESPN and Tennis Channel hold the cable rights to the event.
CBS Sports Network will carry a live studio show, “Today at the U.S. Open,” from 10 to 11 a.m. ET on days when it telecasts live matches.
“CBS Sports Network is an increasing priority for CBS,” said David Berson, executive vice president of CBS Sports and president of the CBS Sports Network. “Continuing to further align CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network is an important initiative.”
In addition to the live matches, CBS Sports Network will televise the U.S. Open qualifying matches Aug. 21-24. These matches have never been carried on television before.
The move continues the network’s strategy of complementing CBS Sports coverage on the cable channel. But it also furthers its strategy to roll out more live programming. In the past year, the channel has doubled the number of live hours it televises, launching shows like “Rome” and providing coverage from the driving range at the Masters, an event to which CBS Sports holds the rights.
Sources say the network has been negotiating with the NFL for programming, too. Such a deal would make sense this year, since CBS Sports holds the rights to the 2013 Super Bowl. To date, the channel has not carried any NFL programming.
CBS rebranded the channel from CBS College Sports in 2011. But Berson said the moves to add tennis and golf programming to the channel’s lineup do not diminish what is a college football focus for the channel.
“College sports remains at the core of what this network does,” Berson said. “This is all additive.”
When NBC Sports launches its next regional sports network in Houston this fall, it will be the latest Comcast SportsNet to use NBC for national spot sales.
In April, NBC Sports started selling national spot advertising for four of its RSNs — New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and Philadelphia — through NBC Owned Television Stations.
Results have been good enough that Ray Warren, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for NBC Sports Regional Networks, will bring Houston into that fold.
Through the Fox-owned Home Team Sports, FSN sells national ads across all its RSNs to let national advertisers buy local spots across all U.S. markets with one buy.
“But we will bring in NBC to get the national advertisers who want to just buy the Astros or the Rockets,” Warren said.
Despite the move to let NBC handle national spot sales, Warren said the RSN’s focus would be local — both on-air and in ad sales.
The goal at each NBC Sports RSN is to have 65 percent of ad sales be local and 35 percent be national. While it could not be determined what the current RSN average was, Warren did shed some light on the Houston market.
“Right now, it’s the reverse of that in Houston. We have a lot of work to do,” Warren said. “Local sales are like a value fund. Those sponsors stay with you through thick and thin.”
Comcast SportsNet is in the process of hiring up to five sales executives to round out its Houston sales staff.
The RSN hired two longtime Houston-based ad sales executives to oversee the process. It hired Doug Lyles from the NBC affiliate in Houston (KPRC) as vice president of ad sales, and named Jim Colasanto from FS Houston to be senior director of ad sales. Lyles starts today; Colasanto started earlier this month and already has started selling Rockets inventory, which debuts on CSN Houston this fall.
“It will take 30 to 60 days to get the full team in place,” Warren said. “They are going to be deeply focused in letting advertising know that this is a hyperlocal network.”