David Berson, a widely respected executive who has had a long tenure at ESPN, will move to CBS in a role that focuses on college sports coverage. A top priority will be leading the CBS College Sports Networ -- a competitor to ESPNU, a network Berson launched and led.
Berson will carry dual nameplates as executive vice president of CBS Sports and president of CBS College Sports. Another likely priority: working to formulate CBS' efforts to jointly carry the NCAA basketball tournament next spring.
At ESPN, Berson had a definitive impact on what fed into the living rooms of American sports fans. He led programming strategy, development and scheduling for all ESPN on-air outlets, from the flagship network to ABC Sports to ESPNU.
CBS College Sports Network is in 36 million homes, a little more than half of ESPNU's coverage.
CBS College Sports Network has rights to sports in the Mountain West Conference, which will add Boise State next year. It also has football games for Army, Navy and Air Force and Atlantic 10 and Conference USA basketball.
Increasingly, the net has been exploring more links with CBS Sports proper, including SEC football, a leading property at ESPN.
"[Berson] has expertise across the many disciplines of sports media and has launched the kind of collegiate sports programming channels that will help CBS College Sports achieve even greater success," stated CBS Sports chief Sean McManus.
Berson is no stranger to multiplatform distribution, holding top roles at ESPN3.com and ESPN mobile TV.
His last title at ESPN was executive vice president, programming planning and strategy; he left last year after ESPN reportedly frowned on a relationship he had with a colleague. Berson had been at the company for 16 years, also working in marketing and affiliate sales, the latter experience could help boost distribution for CBS College Sports Network.
Steve Herbst, who has headed the network, will depart at the end of the year, CBS said.