So it’s almost that time of year again…The time after the Super Bowl but before Baseball season starts up….March Madness. The 65 best college basketball teams square up in one big bracket-style tournament to determine a national college champion. This year the stakes and event style are a little altered, but in the long run it will work out for fans of the NCAA game.
If, year after year, you constantly ask the question “why is the Duke game still on television when they’re up 70-45 with two minutes to go, when Illinois and Xavier are heading into overtime?” then hopefully this new television agreement brings those days to an end. Expectantly, I can watch my favorite mid-major college team from start to finish, even if they have no shot of winning.
CBS/Turner television networks have agreed to a deal for the next 14 years. This deal increases the amount of NCAA teams in the March Madness tournament from 65 to 68, with a new opening play-in round for every 16 seeded team. CBS and Turner Broadcasting are paying $10.8 Billion from 2011 to 2024 to carry the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Under this new deal, the NCAA will get $770 Million a year, rather than the $500 Million in the prior years. The first and second round games will be carried nationally on CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV. While the sweet sixteen and so on will be split equally by CBS and Turner. Each one of these networks has also worked out an agreement on altering the National Championship channel each of the 14 years, with CBS the first seven and Turner the next seven.
The contract signed in April with CBS and Turner Sports meant all games would be televised live nationally for the first time ever. Because Turner’s three cable channels don’t have the same commitments to the nightly news and other regular programming as CBS, the tournament games will be more spread out starting this season. This includes prime time games on TBS, TNT and TruTV during the first Sunday. This deal ensures that each and every game in its entirety will be broadcasted nationally on one of four networks. Instead of starting games ten to fifteen minutes after one another like that of recent years, this new agreement makes games beginning roughly a half hour after one another.
If you are stuck at work during any of these intense games, March Madness on Demand is still streaming the games free live on the Internet. In the past, March Madness on Demand has been free online and its advertising brought in another $100 Million per year for the CBS network.
You won’t have to miss that buzzer beater anymore; with constant action this could be the best March Madness Tournament yet. For the first time you can sit down and watch each and every game to it entirety, no matter what two colleges are squaring up.