CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus has known for over a year when he planned to retire and who would be his successor.
On Tuesday, it was made official.
McManus will retire in April after 27 years in charge. His successor will be David Berson, who has been president of CBS Sports for over 10 years.
“The reaction has been very positive, so I feel good about everything,” McManus said. “We really don’t have any major rights negotiations coming up in in the next number of years. So, I think the timing is really good. And to be able to go out with a Super Bowl, March Madness, and The Masters is good timing for me and the division.”
McManus, who will turn 69 in February, said he discussed his future plans with his bosses at Paramount Global, which owns CBS, last year and that the transition timeline has been in place for over a year.
McManus, who joined CBS Sports as president in 1996, has had many achievements during his tenure, but the most significant remains reacquiring the NFL rights in 1998. CBS did not have games from 1994 through 1997, which led to a mass exodus of talent. Many went to Fox, which outbid CBS for the NFC package in 1993.
CBS will carry its 22nd Super Bowl on Feb. 11 from Las Vegas.
“I’ve been very proud of a lot of the negotiations we’ve done along with the partnerships and friendships that I’ve made, but I have to say when the team was able to bring the NFL back to CBS, that was a moment that is difficult to top. It is kind of a first among equals,” he said.
McManus has also kept the network’s longstanding relationship with The Masters in tact. When CBS does next year’s tournament, it will be the 68th straight year, making it the longest current relationship between a network and sporting event.
CBS also has the PGA Tour and PGA Championship through 2030 and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with Warner Discovery Sports (formerly Turner Sports) through 2032. In recent years it has added a portfolio of soccer programming, including the UEFA Champions League, as well as Big Ten . CBS is in its final year carrying the SEC Saturday afternoon game.
George Cheeks, president and chief executive officer of CBS, and chief content officer of news and sports at Paramount+ said in a statement: “Sean is a first-ballot, hall of fame executive who has masterfully managed all aspects of CBS Sports for 27 years and helped guide us through a transformative era in sports television.”
Berson joined CBS Sports in 2011 and has been president since June 2013.
McManus was president of CBS News and CBS Sports from 2005 through 2011 before being named CBS Sports Chairman in February 2011.
The retirement of McManus will mark the end of a long relationship between his family and CBS. McManus father, the late Jim McKay, was with CBS from 1950-61 before going to ABC, where he was best known for being the host of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” as well as covering 12 Olympics.
“I knew when I was 7 years old that I wanted to go into sports television, and that’s because my dad took me to events and showed me what it was like,” he said. “To be part of that and understand what a great profession it is, I do owe him pretty much everything. And then the lessons he taught me on storytelling and how to comport yourself and the importance of integrity and honesty. Not a couple hours go by that I don’t think about something that he taught me or something that he told me about.”
CBS’ announcement marks the second major change in less than a week atop a network sports division. Rick Cordella was named president of NBC Sports last Thursday. He will succeed Pete Bevacqua when he becomes Notre Dame’s athletic director early next year.
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