Network kicks off channel next month

College sports are getting an injection of corporate growth hormones thanks to a move by CBS to turn its 24/7 College Sports TV channel into the CBS College Sports Network, beginning next month.

Spearheaded by the top two executives of CBS Sports — prexy Sean McManus and Tony Petitti, executive VP and exec producer — the newly named network will begin developing more original programming, starting with “College Sports Tonight,” a nightly recap of the news and a preview of forthcoming events.

“We believe this rebranding will better position our college-sports cable network in the competitive world of cable-television distribution,” McManus said. Petitti stressed the “ability to bring unity to the CBS Sports brand across all media — broadcast network, cable, online and mobile.”

The network reaches only about 25 million cable and satellite subscribers, a relatively modest number because but most of its clearance is on digital sports tiers. These tiers are not well penetrated on cable systems because customers have to pony up an extra monthly fee to get them.

McManus is hoping that the new initiative will get CBS College Sports Network into more homes.

CBS Corp. bought College Sports TV in January 2006 for $325 million.

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