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CBS Sports Net Goes to Rome

4/02/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Celebrating the
first anniversary of its rebranding,
CBS Sports Network
will present its viewers
with a gift that it believes
will keep on giving: Jim
Rome.

After hosting Jim Rome
Is Burning
on ESPN for the
past eight years, the provocative
sports personality
officially joins CBS Sports
Network with a half-hour weekday show on April 3. Rome
will dig beyond the day’s top headlines and the stories creating
social buzz, as the feisty veteran dispenses a daily dose of
his incisive perspective.

In addition to all-star guests, Rome will get an opinion assist
from a roster of regular contributors including Gregg
Doyel of CBSSports.com, Will Carroll of SI.com, and Jason
Whitlock and Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com.

Rome’s arrival is the latest addition to the CBS Sports Network
roster since it was rebranded from CBS College Sports
Network last April 4. The service, which counts some 45 million
subscribers and is available to 99 million homes nationwide,
has expanded its studio programming around college
football and basketball, launched a weekday simulcast of the
national radio syndicated program The Tim Brando Show and
secured the rights to Major League Lacrosse, the National Lacrosse
League and the Professional Bull Riders Association
tour.

“We feel we’re building the right mix of live events,
along with our analysis shows, the daily studio programming
with The Tim Brando Show and Rome and original
productions like College Confidential,” said David Berson,
executive vice president, CBS Sports and president, CBS
Sports Network.

Berson — who joined from ESPN in January 2011 and
also has been focused on helping with the integration of
the broadcast division, cable network and CBSSports.com
relative to talent, information and production — said CBS
Sports Network is also developing other programming for
daytime that would bridge Brando and Rome and is eyeing
late-night fare, coming out of its event coverage in primetime.

Noting that many of its properties are locked up for the long
term, Berson said the U.S. has an insatiable appetite for sports
and CBS and CBS Sports Network will assess appropriate opportunities.
To that end, they will “take a look at the Big East,”
whose rights are coming up for bid.

CBS Sports Network, which has rights to the Atlantic 10 and
last June inked a multiyear renewal with the Patriot League,
also expects to be working for some time to come with Conference
USA and the Mountain West Conference, which are
assessing merger and realignment options.

“We have great relationships with the Mountain West and
Conference USA,” Berson said. “We have long-term deals
with both conferences and intend to be working with them
for many years.”

Rome has benefited from an extensive marketing campaign,
including promos during CBS’s coverage of the 2012
NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Berson
said Rome, who also will contribute to CBS Sports and its
digital platforms, as well as host a program on sister premium
service Showtime, is bringing a large and loyal fan base
to CBS Sports Network. His syndicated radio show draws 2
million listeners and he has 750,000 followers on Twitter and
his 250,000 Facebook friends, Berson said.

“Jim’s very active with social media,” Berson said. “He’s very
high-profi le, with tons of fans. We’re extremely bullish on Jim.”

The rebranding anniversary aside, Berson said the debut is
well-timed. “It’s no coincidence Rome is launching now,” he
said. “The NCAAs just crowned a new champion. The Masters
and the start of Major League Baseball season are up next,
and the NHL and NBA playoffs are right around the corner.
This is one of the best and busy times of the sports calendar.”

Berson said CBS Sports Network’s distribution base has
grown 14% since 2010. “The distributors are taking notice and
are excited about the moves we’re making to transform CBS
Sports Network,” he said.

September