Most spring Saturdays, sports fans who turn on CBS at 3 p.m. want to watch golf. This Saturday, they will not be able.
Instead, the longtime home of the Masters, Super Bowl and NCAA men’s basketball tournament will broadcast the UEFA Men’s Champions League final for the first time. A four-hour block of programming begins at 1:30 p.m., 90 minutes before Manchester City kick off against Chelsea at 3. There will also be a half-hour post-match show.
If you’re looking for the Charles Schwab Challenge of the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson’s first tournament since winning the PGA Championship, you’ll need to go elsewhere – or watch football until at least 5:30 p.m., when the golf show must begin. .
It’s a big statement about CBS’s commitment to football.
“We’re all about big, glamorous, glamorous events, and these football events definitely fall into that category,” said longtime CBS Sports President Sean McManus.
The scale of production is not only indicated by the hours devoted to it. CBS will have broadcast crews in its London studio (Kate Abdo, Jamie Carragher, Roberto Martínez, and Michael Richards) and at the Estádio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal, where the match will take place (Pierre Schmeichel, Guillem Balagué, and journalists Nico cantor and Jenny chiu). Peter Drury and Rob Green will call the action.
At the helm behind the scenes will be lead producer Pete Radovich, Jr. He is a longtime football fan who has worked on CBS’s other flagship sports for nearly 20 years, particularly the NFL. He is therefore well acquainted with the high standards of the network.
“We wanted to do what we do as CBS Sports: treat it like we would an NFL playoff game,” he said. “All of the producers doing our Masters coverage, NFL coverage, Final Four coverage, that’s what we’re looking for.”
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Radovich is joined in the production room by two football-crazed colleagues with NFL experience, Jonathan Segal and Jelani Rooks. Segal is one of CBS’s top NFL producers – he did Greg Gumbel’s games last year – and Rooks worked on Super Bowl shows.
“Jonathan Segal is a full time producer on NFL games, calls me on day one and says,“ Whatever you need, I’m here. If I have a free minute, I will help you, ”Radovich said. “We had people in place who were producing at a very high level and knew the sport to come.”
After the weekend, Radovich, Segal, Abdo, Cantor and Chiu will fly to Denver to debut the next big chunk of CBS’s football portfolio: the final four in the Concacaf Nations League.
It will be the first time that the network has delivered such a large football production on American soil, having shared the production tasks of the NWSL with teams hired by the league. And it will be the first time America’s top team have played together before World Cup qualifying begins this fall.
Andres Cordero and Maurice Edu call the US-Honduras semi-final at 6:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), and Adrian García Marquez and Marcelo balboa will call Mexico-Costa Rica at 10:00 p.m. (Paramount +). Cantor and Chiu will be the secondary reporters. The third place match and the final will take place on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (Paramount +) and 9 p.m. (CBSSN) respectively.
(Yes, these are three Union alumni on the broadcast squad – Davies, Onyewu, and Edu – for US matches that can feature up to four area natives: Zack Steffen of Downingtown, Christian Pulisic of Hershey, Brenden Aaronson of Medford and Bear, Del., Mark McKenzie.)
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But that’s only part of CBS’s football offering this summer. There are NWSL matches on CBS Sports Network and Paramount +, the Brazilian league debut on Paramount +, and the Argentine league’s return from a pandemic-imposed shutdown.
Later this year, Paramount + will add Italian Serie A (with matches on TV as well) and Coppa Italia; continental club and national team competitions of the Asian Football Confederation, including qualifying for the World Cup; and the new UEFA Europa Conference League for men’s clubs.
There will also be the next stages of qualifying for the Concacaf Men’s World Cup, including six road games for the US National Team.
Add it all up and CBS will broadcast over 2,000 games in 16 competitions this year, using two TV channels and a subscription streaming platform.
“We use all of these platforms to promote, program and showcase the world’s most popular game,” said McManus, a phrase that would have sent shockwaves through the industry in the past.
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He also knows it. Because the story here isn’t just how much football CBS has acquired. It is that for decades, the network did nothing with sport.
When CBS’s flagship broadcast channel broadcast the first game of the NWSL Challenge Cup last summer, it was the first outdoor football game since the 1976 Soccer Bowl of the former North American League of Nations. soccer. Saturday’s game will be the ninth on the broadcast channel in 12 months. The only football on CBSSN before the arrival of the NWSL was a brief banter with modern NASL in 2016.
“It’s one of the great accomplishments I remember at CBS Sports, how we grew as quickly as we did,” said McManus. “It was a really, really satisfying trip for us.”
McManus has done his share of ramping up. Long familiar with Augusta National and the office of the NFL commissioner, he learned a lot about world football.
“The football fan is among the most demanding fans in the global sporting landscape,” said McManus. “If you had asked me a year ago if CBS Sports was going to become a major force in the world of international football, I probably would have said I wasn’t sure. But, in less than a year, we’ve become a must-see destination for casual football fans and die-hard fans who follow the sport every day.