December 24, 2023
The Pro Volleyball Federation took a significant first step toward spreading the word to potential new fans by signing a multiyear deal with CBS Sports.
A little more a month before the PVF’s inaugural season launches on January 24, the league announced last week that a minimum of 10 regular-season matches, as well as the playoff semifinals and championship, will be telecast on national TV. The cable channel CBS Sports Network will be the primary home.
“This is another groundbreaking day in the history of Pro Volleyball Federation,” league co-founder Dave Whinham said in a release. “In CBS Sports we have a great partner that believes in the growth of women’s professional volleyball in North America.”
CBS Sports Network is a third-tier option on most cable systems and does not subscribe to the Nielsen ratings survey, so nailing down how many potential eyeballs it might “reach” is problematic. The best information out there is that in 2015, CBSSN had about 61 million subscribers and was available in 61.1% of TV households with cable.
However, the TV landscape has undergone a sea change of “cord-cutting” since then. Even cable sports megapower ESPN, a top-tier channel on virtually all systems, is down to 70.2 million subscribers as of December 2023, so 61% of that figure would put CBSSN’s reach at 42.8 million, roughly 38% of the United States’ 125 million TV homes. That calculation is purely hypothetical, but it would put CBSSN in the ballpark with other all-sports channels such as Fox Sports 2 (51 million), ESPNU (49.9 million) and Big Ten Network (47.5 million) that are monitored in the Nielsen ratings.
The PVF joins a lineup on CBS Sports Network that includes a whole lot of international soccer (including the Champions League, Italian Serie A and the Scottish Premier League), college football and basketball, the Professional Bull Riders tour (a staple for more than a decade), Athletes Unlimited softball, strongman competitions (including World’s Strongest Man), auto racing such as the World of Outlaws, PWBA bowling, Major League Fishing, Karate Combat, the Elite Trades Championship Series and poker (World Series of Poker and Poker Masters). As that list shows, CBSSN pretty much is a dumping ground for second-tier content, what in the nascent…