CSTV Inks Insight Pact


With the fall season less than a month away, upstart sports service CSTV: College Sports Television landed several content and distribution deals last week — including its first agreement with a major MSO.

The network will telecast U.S. national championship events in several Olympic sports, under a multiyear programming agreement with the United States Olympic Committee that is expected to be announced this week, according to CSTV president and CEO Brian Bedol.

The network, which is being distributed by DirecTV Inc. and several small cable operators, also scored its first major MSO deal with Insight Communications Co. Neither party would discuss distribution specifics.

Sources said Insight channel positioning would vary on a system-by-system basis.

Bedol added that he's close to reaching carriage deals with several "top MSOs," but would not reveal specifics.

While not currently televising the U.S. Olympic trials leading up to the games, Bedol said the USOC deal — terms of which were not revealed — include coverage of USOC national championship events in such sports as boxing, wrestling, skiing, volleyball, weightlifting, track and field and ice skating. CSTV will develop a weekly anthology series similar to ABC's Wide World of Sports, melding live events and athlete profiles.

USOC chief of entertainment properties Keith Allo said the deal provides greater exposure to Olympic sports and athletes not showcased on NBC, which has the rights to both the Summer and Winter Olympics — including Olympic trial competition — through 2012.

"What's been missing for the Olympic sports and our Olympic athletes was that consistency — there hasn't been one place to go to find out about what's going on with our Olympic hopefuls," Allo said.

For CSTV, the deal provides the network with programming rarely seen on broadcast and cable networks, as well as USOC ties that could create other programming, marketing and advertising opportunities.

"It's a way of celebrating the Olympic movement and at the same time showcasing the quality and the stories of amateur athletes," Bedol said. "Having a relationship with the USOC is enormous … we think it is going to be one of our defining relationships."

In other CSTV developments, the network will offer National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I-AA regular-season college football games — as well as the National Junior College Athletic Association and National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics championship games — as part of its college football "Game of the Week" package beginning Aug. 30.

The network also unveiled a weekly package of soccer matches beginning Sept. 15 which include appearances by 18 teams that competed in the men's and women's NCAA Division I tournaments last fall.