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
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 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
* 6 References
* 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
writing 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 he continued to work with MTV's
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,
After receiving his
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
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
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
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 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
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,
Sonny Liston ,
Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson ,
Jack Dempsey , and Rocky Marciano
. Additionally, they broadcast cult classics like
Home Run Derby and
Joe Namath Show, a short-lived weekly variety show co-hosted by
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
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
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 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
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.
Bedol earned his bachelor\'s degree from
Boston University , and
MBA from the
Harvard Business School .
* ^ 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
Sports Business Journal .
* ^ Peter Kafka (2012-03-27). "Stealthy Startup".
* ^ Keith Dunnavant (2007-01-08). "Life of Brian Bedol: Serving the
Underserved and the Passionate".
* ^ Sean Gregory (2003-04-27). "Lacrosse at 11".
Time Magazine .
* ^ Steve Erlanger (1987-12-14). "TV Host Sneers to Succeed". New
York Times .
* ^ "Cast and Crew of Pictionary".
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Review". The New York Times.
* ^ Rudy Martzke (2003-02-05). "Stay Tuned for CSTV".
USA Today .
* ^ Robert La Franco (2000-05-31). "Entertaining the Future". Red
Herring . Archived from the original on 2008-06-13.
* ^ Dan Kaplan (2004-03-22). "Steve Greenberg: The Dealmaker".
Sports Business Journal
Sports Business Journal . Archived from the original on June 24, 2008.
* ^ 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
Cablevision and Classic Sports". The New York Times.
* ^ Richard Sandomir (1994-04-04). "
ESPN Unit Buys Classic Sports".
New York Times .
* ^ Jon Lafayette (2002-06-10). "Bedol\'s Back with a College
Sports Net". Cable World .
* ^ Rudy Martzke (2005-01-27). "March Madness Could Take Byte out
USA Today .
* ^ "Bedrocket". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
* ^ Template:Cite news=http://archives.cjr.org/behind the news/now
this news launches an app.php
* ^ Bell, Jack (1 May 2012). "KickTV Is on the \'Air\' on YouTube".
New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
* ^ Patel,
(29 January 2015). Videoink. Missing or empty title= (help )
* ^ "Network A". Retrieved 29 January 2014.
* ^ Spangler, Todd (15 October 2013). "Univision to Debut
\'Flama,\' Its First Online-Only Video Network, on YouTube". Variety.
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* ^ Zax, David (1 August 2013). "DIDJA HEAR THE ONE ABOUT
SPOTIFY\'S COMEDY APP?". Fast Company. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
* ^ Bercovici, Jeff (4 September 2012). "Bedrocket\'s $15 Million
Bet on Gatekeeper-Free Video". Forbes. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
* ^ Kafka, Peter (17 July 2013). "ESPN\'s Website Lets You Ask Jon
Hamm a Question, and Get an Answer". AllThingsD. Retrieved 8 January