College Football Preview: CBS Sports Network Set To Expand Its Role

Entering its first academic sports season under its new moniker, CBS Sports Network is prepared to play a much more prominent role in the college football landscape.

With a 42-game slate on tap thanks to rights deals with Army, Navy, the Mountain West, Conference USA, and the Patriot League, the network has expanded to five production teams that will work not only to produce elite football coverage but also to more closely resemble the feel and branding of a CBS network broadcast.

“Our biggest thing is that we’re more closely aligning ourselves with the SEC on CBS as far as our look,” says Ross Molloy, VP of remote production at CBS Sports Network. “We are going to have a unique, big new opening animation similar to the one used for SEC games and we’re trying to be more aggressive on how we align ourselves with our studio show.”

Executives hope a cross-platform usage of a marquee talent pool that now includes former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and play-by-play voices Gary Thorne and James Bates, and a plethora of new, original programming will help propel CBS Sports Network to what it was unable to become during its days as CSTV: a legitimate cable competitor to ESPN.

Live On-Site
CBS Sports Network will position eight cameras for the typical college football broadcast this season – that number will jump to 10 for the broadcast of the Rutgers/Army game at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 12.

The network will deploy a small fleet of production trucks to handle its various agreement packages. All Mountain West Conference games will be produced out of NEP Supershooter 14; Conference USA games will be covered out of YES HD 2 from New Orleans-based YES Productions; and NEP Supershooter 9 will be sent to Navy and any additional Division I games. The Division II Game of the Week, scheduled to air on Thursday nights, will be enlisted to Mansion Mobile’s ME-2 HD.

Where CBS Sports Network will look to distinguish itself from the mother ship will be with unique camera angles captured Camera Corps’ ‘Q-Ball.’ A weatherproof aluminum sphere, the ‘Q-Ball’ has a diameter of just 4.5 ft., making it the smallest pan and tilt HD Minicam system on the market.

Molloy anticipates placing the ‘Q-Ball’ in unique positions in the stadium to provide viewers with angles and vantage points that fans haven’t seen before.

“We are going to be using that to get our announcers to get them on camera more,” says Molloy. “It doesn’t have to be manned so we can try different things like placing on a goal post. Our operations crew has never worked with it before so we’re excited to see what we can get with it.”

Commitment to Original Programming
CBS Sports Network has increased its college football programming for the 2011 season with four new shows including the SEC Today Presented by Sonic, SEC Express, Tackling the Trends, and the previously announced Tim Brando Show.

In an attempt to provide comprehensive SEC football coverage complementing CBS Sports’ SEC Game of the Week, SEC Today (Saturdays, 2 p.m. ET) will be hosted by Brent Stover and will preview the game of the week with in-depth analysis and live on-site reports while providing an all-encompassing look at the day in SEC football.  With SEC Express (Sundays 10 a.m. ET), fans will be able to re-live all of the action from CBS Sports’ SEC Game of the Week during a one-hour telecast featuring the top plays and key moments from Saturday’s game.

The network also returns popular studio shows including Inside College Football, The Tony Barnhart Show, SEC Tonight, and College Football Confidential.