For the first time ever, viewers across the nation will be able to watch every NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament game. CBS and Turner on Thursday (2/10) announced that staggered start times and multiple networks will allow for every 2011 “March Madness” game to be broadcast nationally.
CBS Sports and Turner Sports teamed up in a $10.8 billion deal announced last year to share the tournament rights for 14 years, beginning with the playoff series launching next month. As a result of the two pooling their on-air resources – and even their announcing staffs – for the first time in the tournament’s 73-year history all of the games will be available live in their entirety across four national television networks: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.
“Additionally, the new 14-year agreement between Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA allows the viewer to be the programmer by watching and switching between all of the game action across the four networks. The new format features staggered start times, extended programming hours across the networks and give viewers the ability to watch more live game action throughout the day,” said a joint announcement by Turner and CBS.
CBS Sports and Turner Sports say they will present fully integrated game and studio productions across all four networks throughout the tournament, utilizing universal graphics, musical beds, unique camera angles and the previously mentioned integrated talent line-up. The two sports divisions also will collaborate to provide seamless studio integration across TBS, TNT, truTV and CBS with pregame, halftime and post-game shows from studios in New York City and Atlanta. Studio shows will include “The Road to the Final Four,” “Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off,” “AT&T At the Half” and “Inside March Madness presented by Buick.”
The 2011 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tips off in primetime with the NCAA First four on truTV Tuesday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 16 and concludes with the Final Four semifinals and national championship game on CBS on Saturday, April 2 and Monday, April 4, respectively.
In short, CBS will carry the Final Four semifinals and Championship game for the 30th year, plus 26 games during the tourney. Turner will air 41 games across its three television networks. TBS will air a total of 16 contests, TNT 13 and truTV 13 games. In addition, truTV will air the “Reese’s College All-Star Game” on Friday, April 1 as part of “NCAA Final Four Friday.
Fan will need to keep track of their channel changer for the final games on Saturday, April 2 and Monday, April 4. A one-hour Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off show on truTV at 3:00 pm, ET begins Final Four Saturday’s coverage. CBS takes the reins at 4:00 pm with a two-hour Road to the Final Four, followed by the broadcast of the two national semifinal games beginning at 6:00 pm, ET. truTV wraps up Saturday with Inside March Madness presented by Buick. On Monday truTV will air a one-hour Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off show leading up to CBS’s broadcast of the national championship game at 9:00 pm, ET.
“The NCAA tournament television coverage has expanded and evolved with creativity and technology each year. Now, as we collaborate on this schedule with our partners at Turner, two great media companies will further enhance the viewing experience as every game will be televised nationally, giving viewers greater choice. We look forward to this important next step, which offers viewers unprecedented coverage of America’s true national tournament,” said Mike Aresco, Executive VP, Programming, CBS Sports.
“We are proud of the programming schedule we were able to jointly create with our colleagues at CBS, which provides fans with the unprecedented opportunity of watching every game live on national television. With extensive studio and game coverage across TBS, TNT, truTV and CBS there is more programming than ever during one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. NCAA basketball fans will have the opportunity to see every game, from start to finish,” said Christina Miller, Sr. VP of Turner Sports Strategy, Marketing and Programming.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is the trend of the future. Your competitor one day may be your partner the next day. Major sports events are expensive and sharing coverage across multiple platforms with a partner is a way to maximize revenues and share overhead costs. And we would note that the fans also win be being able to see more games – even if they do need to juggle multiple networks to keep on top of things.