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
ESPN Classic and CBS Sports Network. He
served as President and CEO of both companies. He left CSTV Networks
in January, 2008. In 2009 he announced the formation of Bedrock
Venture Partners to invest in early-stage media and technology
businesses. In addition, in August 2010,
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer announced
it had hired Bedol as a consultant to help the league determine what
to do with its media rights. In 2012, he founded Bedrocket in
partnership with Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer. Bedol
currently serves as the company's President and CEO.
1 Early career
2 Classic Sports Network
3 College Sports Television (CSTV)
4 Bedrocket and Sportsrocket
5 Other business ventures
7 External links
Brian Bedol is a "maverick entrepreneur in an increasingly mature
industry dominated by conglomerates.", according to Mediaweek
Magazine. He began his career as an advertising writer in Chicago
McDonald's commercials, but soon after moved to New York as an
on-air promotion producer for the not-yet-launched MTV. After
Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School he continued to work with MTV's
parent company, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, and during the
summer of 1984 was part of a small team that developed the business
concept for Nickelodeon's evening programming block, Nick-at-Nite.
After receiving his
MBA from Harvard University, Bedol joined MTV
founder Bob Pittman, as a partner overseeing television and home video
at Quantum Media Ventures, where he created and executive-produced the
ground-breaking and controversial
Morton Downey, Jr.
Morton Downey, Jr. show. He was
also the creator and executive producer of the Fox Network's first
reality show, Totally Hidden Video. His other television credits
include creator and co-executive producer of the television game show
Pictionary, hosted by Brian Robbins and creator of the 1990 Fox
comedy show Haywire. He also executive produced the home video of
Hagler vs. Leonard: The Superfight, the top-selling sports home
video of the year.
While an executive at Quantum, Bedol, Pittman, and another partner,
Mayo Stuntz, developed and launched
Court TV with Steven Brill's
American Lawyer Media. He also served on the board of directors of
Quincy Jones Entertainment, the creator and producer of the hit
television show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In 1986, Bedol,
along with his partners, also led a secret effort to buy the J. Walter
Thompson advertising agency. Although ultimately outbid by Martin
Sorrell, Quantum had accumulated enough stock to earn over $10 million
for two weeks of effort.
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
Six Flags Theme Parks from Wesray
Capital Corporation, the pioneering leveraged buyout firm started by
William E. Simon
William E. Simon and Ray Chambers. Bedol joined the board of Six
Flags, and oversaw the company's marketing, advertising, promotion,
and creative operations. He developed the company's controversial
national advertising strategy that compared Six Flags to Disneyland.
During this period, Six Flags broke its all-time attendance and
Classic Sports Network
Brian Bedol and Joe Namath
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
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
NBA and 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, Sonny Liston, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jack
Dempsey, and Rocky Marciano. Additionally, they broadcast cult
Home Run Derby
Home Run Derby and the
Joe Namath Show, a short-lived
weekly variety show co-hosted by sportscaster Dick Schaap.
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 Joe
Namath, Magic Johnson, Mary Lou Retton, Wilt Chamberlain, Gale Sayers,
Ernie Banks, and Ted Williams.
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 Cablevision's
approach to acquire the network in 1997,
Cablevision decided to launch
a competitive service called "American Sports Classics." In March,
1997, Bedol and Greenberg filed the first complaint with the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) under the 1992 Cable Act.
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
ESPN Classic (originally
ESPN Classic Sports), and left
the company in early 1999.
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
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
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
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 &
Company to develop the media strategy and structure that led to the
launch of the YES Network.
He also was head of the American-based venture capital group Fusient
Media Ventures; 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
Bedol earned his bachelor's degree from Boston University, and
MBA from the Harvard Business School.
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