Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 at 1:45 pm  |  13 responses

The NCAA is with Coco

By Lang Whitaker

The NCAA Tournament is with Coco.

Today the NCAA and CBS Sports announced a new 14-year agreement that will keep the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at least partially on CBS, where it has aired since 1982.

The big surprise is that CBS is teaming up with Turner Sports to air every game live in its entirety across a variety of networks, including CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. CBS and Turner will split coverage of the regional semi-final games. CBS will provide coverage of the regional finals, as well as the Final Four, including the National Championship Game, through 2015. Beginning in 2016, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner with the Final Four and the National Championship game alternating every year between the CBS Television Network and Turner’s TBS.

So one week after signing Conan O’Brien, Turner is adding the college basketball championships to their existing coverage of the NBA, MLB, Nascar and the PGA.

“This is a landmark deal for Turner Broadcasting and we’re extremely pleased to begin a long-term relationship with the NCAA and our partners at CBS and to have a commitment that extends well into the next decade,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. “The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has a rich tradition and is one of the most talked about sporting events every year highlighted by the Final Four and the National Championship Game.”

It’s also mentioned in the press release that the tournament could be expanding to 68 teams instead of the 96 that was talked about the last few months. Although with all the college players going pro the last few weeks, they may want to consider contracting the thing.

ESPN had been rumored to be pursuing the NCAA Tournament. After losing out, the Worldwide Leader in Sports said in a statement: “We made an aggressive bid and believe our combination of TV distribution, digital capabilities, season-long coverage and year-round marketing would have served the interests of the NCAA and college fans very well. We remain committed to our unparalleled coverage of more than 1,200 men’s and women’s college basketball games each season.”

(Full disclosure: I appear on NBA TV, which is also run by Turner.)

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Fascinating. Glad they stuck with 68 rather than explode to 96 teams.

  • http://slamonline Bryan Crawford

    I agree with Ben. 68 teams is cool, but 96 teams would’ve been ridiculous. Plus, it would’ve killed the post-season NIT tourney. Still, are there anti-trust laws in broadcasting because Turner has just monopolized everything.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    NCAA tournament on TBS? Very funny!

  • Mcdunkin

    Tru TV? nothing helps me get ready to watch some march madness more than the rundown of a murder case or a cops marathon..operation repo with jay williams getting his motorcycle towed FTW!

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    LOL @ Modunkin! They shoulda repo’d that damn bike back in ’03!

  • JD

    Does this mean i’ll still be able to march madness on demand?

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  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/features/overdribbling chiqo

    68 still sucks for the four teams who aren’t really in the tournament.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    96 would’a sucked big.

  • MikeC.

    96 would have been way too many. At some point there has to be losers so there can be winners. The sooner some of the losers are decided, the better.

  • http://www.yougotdunkedon.com LilKDub503

    It’s a money thing. Someone will watch, it just wouldn’t be diehard basketball fans like us. It would be some average, run of the mill, mostly ignorant robot TV watcher. Those sets of eyeballs will make the NCAA some kind of money. So even though everyone in sports woulda hated the 96 teams, the NCAA was trying for a little more dough.

  • Michael Scorn

    Jay Williams is the greatest sports irony of all time! He changed his name to avoid the bad luck associated with all people named Jason Williams.

  • MikeC.

    @ Michael Scorn – Yeah, who woulda thought that the Whit Eboy version of Jason Williams would have lasted the longest of them all? I figured he’d have strangled to death in a white trash nightmare by now.