CBS College Sports shifts focus from studio to field production

CBS College Sports is laying off nearly one-fourth of its staff (about 30 employees) in a shift from studio programming to HDTV field production of sporting events.

The studio shows will stay on the air until early December and resume temporarily for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March, after which they will be completely eliminated.

Steve Herbst, the executive VP of CBS College Sports (the former CSTV), told “The New York Times” that the shift was not a reaction to competition from ESPNU, but from cable operators, advertisers and fans.

“We’ve learned that live game coverage and HD production are the real value of this network,” Herbst told the newspaper. “This is absolutely not a retreat. I know our friends at ESPNU have also ramped up their high-def programming.”

The network has 25 million subscribers and will soon add 5 million more because of new deals. This multimedia operation is the first dedicated exclusively to college sports 24 hours a day. It consists of CBS College Sports Network, a digital television service seen via cable and satellite, and and its network of 215 official college Web sites.