CBS College Sports Network and the U.S. Army Athletic Association have inked a deal to bring Army home games and select neutral site games to the cable network. The deal runs through 2014, and includes at least three games that will be played at Yankee Stadium, including Rutgers in 2011, Air Force in 2012 and Boston College in 2014 (The Yankees and Army are in the process of determining the opponent in 2013).
As part of the agreement, CBS will air the Army games on Saturday afternoons, during the "prime" time for college football.
"We are not going to get Big 10 football or SEC football, so we are trying to figure out what deals we can do that makes us look different than ESPNU or regular ESPN or all the regional sports networks," says CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus. "Being able to say that we are the network of football for the college service academies I think says a statement about us."
That branding strategy, of becoming the home of college football for the Army, Navy and Air Force Academies is an important one for CBS College Sports, which has been trying to grow its distribution base since rebranding from CSTV in early 2008.
"It is a really big deal for our network," says CBS College Sports Network's Executive V.P. and GM Steve Herbst.
The ability to televise home games from the three service academies will also allow for special programming events. Herbst says that the network is planning a triple-header of Army, Navy and Air Force games for October 10, which the network will bill as a service academy or armed forces appreciation day.
Executives for CBS declined to comment on the value of the deal.