College Sports Television (CSTV), which debuted in April and has about 15 million cable and satellite subscribers, is counting on devotees of minor sports to increase its audience. CSTV has paid CBS Sports an undisclosed amount for the rights to nine NCAA championships-Division I women's lacrosse, ice hockey and field hockey; Division II and III men's and women's lacrosse and Division I men's and women's water polo. "There's a huge level of interest in these sports," says Brian Bedol, CSTV's president. "It's a community of athletes, alumni and family that's amazingly connected." The deal also helps CBS, which in 1999 got the rights to 67 of the 88 NCAA championships ( ESPN has the other 21) to help secure the Division I men's hoops tournament. In the deal CBS promised to try to give lesser-known sports championships "additional exposure"; most are now crammed into highlight shows but will be aired live and in their entirety on CSTV. "We're looking to expand coverage, and CSTV is a great platform," said Mike Aresco, CBS Sports' senior vice president of programming. Aresco and Bedol seem open to developing more projects. "Our network is the perfect outlet not just for these nine sports," says Bedol, "but for others not seen."
As if his life didn't already have a tabloid feel, here comes Kobe Bryant: The E! True Hollywood Story. The show debuts on Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. and includes interviews with Bryant's teachers at Lower Merion (Pa.) High. "It's what people are talking about, and we're capitalizing," says Betsy Rott of E! Entertainment Television. Bryant and Anna Kournikova are the only sports stars to get the True Hollywood treatment. The Williams sisters, David Beckham and Michael Jordan are likely for 2004.