CBS College Scheduling Gamble Set To Pay Primetime Dividends

By Carolyn Braff
On Thursday night, Tim Pernetti’s off-season of studying Mountain West Conference football should pay off big.
In selecting this season’s slate of Mountain West games to air on the CBS College Sports Network, Pernetti, EVP, content, consulted league officials, coaches, and commissioners to help determine the best matchups. At the top of Pernetti’s wish list was a Thursday-night game between Utah and TCU, but few predicted they would be nationally ranked by the time the game rolled around. In primetime on Thursday night, No. 10 Utah faces off against No. 11 TCU in a game poised to take the Mountain West Conference — and CBS College Sports Network — into the spotlight.
“We did spend a lot of time trying to whittle down our list of conference games to our wish list, and this game was at the very top of the list,” Pernetti says. “We’re just thrilled that it’s worked out the way that it has.”
CBS College, which has partnered with Mountain West since 2003, worked with the conference to schedule this late-season matchup as the second in a three-game Thursday-night package. Fitting with the network’s growing push for live-event coverage in high-definition, Thursday’s game will be broadcast in HD.
“The conference wants to move to live-event programming in HD as much as we want to do it as a network,” Pernetti says. “We made a decision in the summer that we were going to upgrade the Thursday package with the Mountain West to HD, and it was a great joint effort. Everybody pitched in resources in order to make it happen.”
Mira Mobile is providing mobile production facilities for all three games in that HD package, rolling out its M5 53-foot HD expando truck. A team of 35 CBS College employees is on-site for the production. The network will use seven manned cameras for the broadcast, including a cart cam, and the microphone complement includes effects mics and two wired parabolic microphones. Graphics will be provided by a Chryon Duet LEX and an HD/SD switchable clock-and-score unit from Sports Media.
As a pivotal top-25 matchup with BCS implications, CBS College’s broadcast will borrow some star power from its parent company. CBS Sports analyst Dan Fouts will lend his talents to CBS College Sports Network, providing color commentary alongside play-by-play announcer Tom Hart.
“I think that’s just a further example of how the relationship between CBS College and CBS Sports is working overtime,” Pernetti says. “It’s a sign of what we’re doing as a company, trying to make sure that we pool our resources and obviously attach big-name people to the big-name events. Having Dan do the game is another sign of our doing everything we can to give this game a big-time feel.”
CBS College has also worked with CBS Sports to promote this big-time game, taking advantage of CBS Sports’ own college-football coverage to begin talking up this matchup last Saturday.
“CBS started promoting this TCU-Utah game last weekend within their SEC coverage, and it was a great shot in the arm for us and for the league to get that kind of promotion,” Pernetti says. “When we acquired the rights to the Mountain West Conference, they took a big chance on us, because we were new, and we made a big investment in them, so we are excited for the league. Games like this are a great showcase for what this league is all about.”
Having two top-25 teams meet in primetime in November is also a great showcase for the network, which continues working to grow its distribution. CBS College is well distributed in Mountain West country, Pernetti says, and with various local cable deals and satellite agreements through Dish Network and DirecTV, this game should get fans across the country clamoring to tune in as well.
The game will also be available online as a $14.95 pay-per-view stream, available at www.cbssports.com.