Classic Sports Cable Network Planned for Late 1994
NEW YORK (AP) _ A group backed by powerful media investors plans to launch a cable television network by the end of the year focusing on classic moments in sports.
The project, which is being headed by former Time Warner Inc. executive Brian Bedol, has already acquired rights to ″thousands of hours″ of pro football, basketball and boxing films and is negotiating for rights to rerun Major League Baseball games and other sports.
Bedol said Monday that the network will create programs around classic events, possibly providing interviews with the athletes involved or using game film to illustrate the evolution of team rivalries.
The network, which will be called Classic Sports Network, will also feature sports talks shows that, for instance, may give callers a chance to talk with a retired player. The channel would also have shopping shows featuring exclusive sports merchandise.
Network backers have also acquired rights to sports documentaries and other sports shows like ″Home Run Derby″ that matched baseball sluggers trying to hit as many home runs as possible off batting practice pitchers.
Bedol, who is chief executive of Classic Sports Network, said cable TV systems already offer channels that rerun TV sitcoms and movies.
″We felt there was a wonderful treasure of sports programming that is truly underexposed,″ Bedol said. ″We felt there is a great opportunity to create an environment for sports fans separate from the live game.″
One investor, according to Bedol, is Liberty Media Corp., owner of a 50 percent stake in the regional sports network Prime SportsChannel Networks. Liberty is a spinoff of Tele-Communications Inc., the nation’s biggest cable system operator.
Another backer is Allen Co., the investment banking firm that specializes in media and entertainment.
Bedol declined to say how much either Liberty or Allen & Co. have invested.
Individuals familiar with the project said American Telephone & Telegraph Co. has also tentatively agreed to invest in the new network. An AT&T spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on speculation.
Bedol said sports fans surveyed over the past two years felt a classic sports network would be a good complement to ESPN and others networks that offer live sports. He said the new group has no intention of competing with those networks in bidding for live sports rights.
Joining Bedol at the helm of Classic Sports Network are Chairman Gil Friesen, former president of A&M Records; and President Stephen Greenberg, the former deputy commisisoner of baseball under ex-commissioner Fay Vincent.