McManus Promoted, Heads All CBS Sports Ops


Several years ago, it was reported that Leslie Moonves approached Sean McManus and asked him whom he idolized. McManus' response: "Roone." As in Roone Arledge, who headed both the news and sports divisions at ABC for years.

So Moonves, the CBS CEO, gave McManus the opportunity to do the same at CBS, heading both operations starting in 2005. McManus had led sports since 1996.

Since McManus took on the dual role, he hasn't quite had the success in news that Arledge did, although the ABC executive had a larger budget and didn't have to deal with much cable competition. Arledge was known for picking talent. McManus' most high-profile move in that realm was championing Katie Couric as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News," which hasn't made the network a challenger to leader NBC.

McManus is now dropping his news role and returning full-time to CBS Sports, which has an expanding profile, as the division's chairman.

Jeff Fager -- executive producer at "60 Minutes" who replaced the legendary Don Hewitt -- becomes chairman of CBS News. David Rhodes, who led Bloomberg's domestic TV ventures, becomes CBS News president. Both will play a pivotal role in deciding whether Couric stays at CBS -- as will she -- or if the evening newscast needs recasting.

McManus' sports focus comes as CBS embarks on a new partnership with Turner in jointly carrying March Madness. The company is also trying to bolster its college sports cable network.

McManus is known as an astute deal-maker in obtaining sports rights. He served at sports marketing giant IMG's broadcasting operations, so he could land new content for the cable outlet.

"Sports continues to grow into an ever-more important asset to CBS ... we will require Sean's uncommon depth of knowledge of the business, his deal-making acumen and his unique and positive relationships throughout the world of sports," stated Moonves.

McManus became president, CBS Sports in 1996. He helped CBS bring the NFL back to the network, while inking what turned out to be a smart deal in bringing SEC football to the network on Saturdays. With March Madness, he helped engineer the NCAA tournament's free online streaming.

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