BRIAN BEDOL is an American television executive, entrepreneur, and founder of the sports television channels Classic Sports Network and College Sports Television. Bedol owned CSN from 1995 to 1997 and CSTV from 2003 to 2006.
Bedol has since sold off both channels, to
ESPN and CBS respectively,
who have renamed the channels
* 1 Early career * 2 Classic Sports Network * 3 College Sports Television (CSTV) * 4 Bedrocket and Sportsrocket * 5 Other business ventures * 6 References * 7 External links
While an executive at Quantum, Bedol, Pittman, and another partner,
Mayo Stuntz , developed and launched
In 1990, Quantum was sold to
Time Warner , and Bedol, Pittman, and
Stuntz became the executive team for
Time Warner Enterprises, the
company's entrepreneurial ventures unit. The division's highest
profile activity was its purchase of
Six Flags Theme Parks from Wesray
Capital Corporation , the pioneering leveraged buyout firm started by
William E. Simon
CLASSIC SPORTS NETWORK
Time Warner at the end of 1992 to strike out on his own.
While working on the launch of
Nick-at-Nite , Bedol wanted to show
classic sporting events alongside the classic sitcoms. Convinced by
his associates that this was a bad idea for Nick-at-Nite, he decided
to resurrect it as a stand-alone channel over a decade later. In 1995,
Bedol launched his "
Nick-at-Nite of sports" creation, Classic Sports
Network. Partnered with Stephen Greenberg , former Deputy Commissioner
Major League Baseball and son of baseball hall of famer Hank
Greenberg , the pair raised venture capital funding from Allen &
Company , sports and business tycoon
Wayne Huizenga , Paul Tudor Jones
's Tudor Capital, and others. The network launched May 6, 1995 with a
critically acclaimed programming stunt, "Float like a butterfly, sting
like a bee, 24 hours of
Muhammad Ali ." Bedol and Greenberg
successfully negotiated programming agreements with all of the major
leagues, including the
NFL , the
Major League Baseball . They
also licensed the boxing library of
Bill Cayton that included many of
the most important fights in boxing history, including those of Ali,
Unfortunately for the company, very few people could see the network.
Because it was independently owned and not part of a media
conglomerate, the roll-out of the network was slow. But Bedol
persevered, and raised an additional $20 million from Warburg Pincus
to keep the company afloat. An innovative marketer, Bedol recognized
the value of using some of the greatest names in sports history to
help grow the network. Since he couldn't afford to pay them in cash at
the time, he formed the Classic Sports Network "Board of Champions,"
and gave each of its members a slice of equity in exchange for helping
to promote the channel. The board's members included
The strategy was successful, and Classic Sports Network attracted a
lot of attention and favorable publicity. It also attracted some
unfavorable attention. After the company rejected
Bedol's aggressive response succeeded, as American Sports Classics
never launched, and Classic Sports Network was sold to
ESPN later that
year for around $175 million. Bedol oversaw the integration and
COLLEGE SPORTS TELEVISION (CSTV)
After a hiatus of a few years where he was primarily an investor in early-stage media businesses (See Other Business Ventures), in 2002 Bedol announced that he was returning to the cable industry with a new network featuring primarily college sports, called (at the time) NCSN, or National College Sports Network. It was the first sports network that recognized the power of sports to help promote the cable industry's recently introduced digital programming tiers. Bedol was quoted as saying "It's a marketing tool disguised as a programming service.
Similar to the Classic Sports strategy, CSTV acquired the television and internet rights to thousands of collegiate sporting events from over a dozen athletic conferences, including the Big Ten , the Southeastern Conference , and Conference USA .
Although the events CSTV acquired were not big enough for ESPN or Fox Sports , Bedol was one of the first media executives to recognize the value that could be created from aggregating niches using the internet. CSTV brought the long-tail theory to the internet. The creation of CSTV led to Bedol's selection by Sports Business Journal as one of the "20 Most Powerful People in College Athletics" in 2004.
Later that year, acquired the internet sports division from Student Advantage. This became the centerpiece of the broadband distribution strategy that set apart from all the other players in sports, and established the company as a pioneer in the broadband distribution of live sports. This led to the selecting to distribute the national Men's Basketball Championship over the internet in 2005. The tournament has since become the internet's largest annual online sporting event.
Business Week named Bedol to its list of Best Leaders of 2005, Sports Business Journal named him one of the 20 most influential people in online sports, and Sporting News named him to its "Power 100" list.
CSTV was acquired by CBS in 2006 for $325 million, and Bedol was named the President and CEO of the division.
BEDROCKET AND SPORTSROCKET
In 2012, Bedol founded Bedrocket, to invest in, and incubate, digital media properties. Through Bedrocket, Bedol co-founded NowThis News with Ken Lerer. Bedrocket also incubated Sportsrocket, a provider of strategy, technology, and operations to sports rights holders. Sportsrocket created KickTV, in partnership with Major League Soccer, and helped build it into the leading YouTube channel for North American soccer fans. KickTV was sold to Copa90 in 2015. The company also created and operates Network A, a leading global, multi-platform action sports property.
Bedrocket has also collaborated on several projects including the digital destination, Flama, with Univision, the first comedy channel on Spotify, Mike Birbiglia’s film Sleepwalk With Me and an interactive interview with Jon Hamm for ESPN.
OTHER BUSINESS VENTURES
Bedol also helped pioneer the trend of sports teams owning their own regional sports networks. As a minority shareholder in the New Jersey Nets, he was a central participant in the negotiation of the deal that led to the formation of YankeeNets, the co-ownership of the New York Yankees and the Nets. He also worked very closely with Allen Fusient is known primarily for an aborted deal to purchase World Championship Wrestling . In October 2010, he joined the Series A round financing of ticket management software firm, Spotlight Ticket Management.
* ^ Global Entrepreneurship Institute. "Famous Entrepreneurs".
Archived from the original on 2008-06-12.
* ^ Mike Reynolds (2008-01-03). "CBS Integrates CSTV into Sports
Multichannel News .
* ^ John Ourand (2010-08-16). "Bedol consulting MLS on media".
Sports Business Journal
* ^ Whitford, David (2010-05-25). "The king of the sports deal".
Fortune . Archived from the original on 2010-05-22. Retrieved
* ^ Richard Sandomir (1994-04-04). "A Channel for Lovers". The New
York Times .
* ^ Richard Sandomir (1996-09-03). "Classic Sports Network Gets $20
million in New Capital".
New York Times .
* ^ "Classic Sports Network launches on Direct TV". Business Wire.
* ^ Richard Sandomir (1997-03-23). "New Competition for Old Clips".
The New York Times.
* ^ Mark Landler (1997-03-03). "Distribution Dispute Ensnarls