Not only have CBS Sports and Turner Sports cut a deal to share the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship broadcasts for the next 14 years – now they’re also sharing announcing talent.
Under the $10.8 billion deal announced last April CBS and Turner are splitting the playoff game broadcasts. That puts all of the games on broadcast or cable TV, with the tournament expanded to 67 games.
Now, David Levy, President of Sales, Distribution and Sports, Turner Broadcasting System, and Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports, have announced that announcers from both organizations will make appearances across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV.
The 2011 championship tips-off with the NCAA First four on truTV Tuesday, March 15, with Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr calling the action, with Tracy Wolfson courtside. Nantz, Kellogg, Kerr and Wolfson will team up again when the tournament concludes with the Final Four and Championship game on Saturday, April 2 and Monday, April 4 on CBS Sports. Nantz will be covering his 26th Final Four and National Championship, Kellogg will be working both events for the third time, with Kerr joining to call his first Final Four and National Championship. Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, along with courtside reporter Craig Sager, will handle the call for the First Four games on Wednesday, March 16, on truTV.
Two studios, based in New York and Atlanta, will be used to cover all the action. Studio coverage will be anchored by Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson, who will share hosting duties during each day. Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith will provide analysis throughout the tournament alongside Gumbel or Johnson from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York. Analysts Reggie Miller and Seth Davis will join the New York studio rotation for the second week of the tournament. Matt Winer will host the studio coverage from Turner’s Atlanta studio with analysts Davis and Steve Smith.
The studio coverage for Tuesday’s First Four games will feature Gumbel, Johnson, Barkley, Anthony and Kenny Smith. On Wednesday, Winer, Steve Smith and Davis will be in studio offering analysis.
Here is the roster of announce teams for the second and third rounds:
*Semi-final and Regional Final Announce Teams
Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg*
Marv Albert/Steve Kerr*
Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery*
Gus Johnson/Len Elmore*
Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/ Dan Bonner
Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel
Tim Brando/Mike Gminski
Spero Dedes/Bob Wenzel
Tracy Wolfson, Craig Sager, Lesley Visser, David Aldridge, Sam Ryan and Marty Snider will serve as reporters throughout the tournament.
“As we embark on this new 14-year partnership with CBS and the NCAA, we’ve assembled a strong lineup of announcers who will be sharing their insights and analysis throughout the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship across TBS, TNT, truTV and CBS,” said Levy. “The high caliber of on-air broadcasters that we have been able to secure is as diverse and talented as any that’s ever been assembled in sports and will ensure that college basketball fans will enjoy informative and entertaining telecasts from the tip-off of the First Four on truTV through the National Championship Game.”
“This is as deep a talent roster as there is anywhere in sports television,” said McManus. “CBS Sports and Turner Sports have combined many of the most entertaining and honored voices in the business for our coverage of the Tournament. It will make for a remarkable range of expertise and entertainment throughout this great event, from tip-off on truTV to the crowning of a new champion on CBS Sports for the 30th straight year.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Lots of barriers have been coming down in recent years as media organizations find profits in cooperation, rather than unbridled competition. If the best way to handle rights for a major sports contract is to take on a partner, it also makes sense to share air talent. It also means that the NCAA Tournament will have a more cohesive look for viewers.