Initially, CBS will continue to have coverage during most rounds, with Turner channels covering much of the early rounds to the Sweet Sixteen. In 2016, the regional finals, Final Four and national championship game will begin to alternate between CBS and TBS. TBS will get the final two rounds in even numbered years, with CBS getting the games in odd numbered years.
This joint tournament coverage should be distinguished from CBS's regular-season coverage, which it produces on its own. Turner does not currently cover regular-season college basketball games, outside of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. However, games on all four networks use a variation of the longtime CBS College Basketball theme music.
On April 22, 2010, a monumental 14 year, 10.8 billion dollar agreement was reached with Turner to receive joint broadcast rights along with CBS for the NCAA 'March Madness' college basketball tournament. This came after there was speculation that ESPN would snag the rights to future tournament games. The NCAA took advantage of an opt-out clause in its 1999 deal with CBS (which ran through 2013 even though the NCAA had the option of ending the agreement after the 2010 championship) to announce its intention to sign a new contract with CBS and Turner Sports, a division of Time Warner (which co-owns The CW with CBS). The new contract came amid serious consideration by the NCAA of expanding the tournament to 68 teams.
It runs through 2024 and provides for the broadcast of all games of the tournament on national television for the first time in history. All first four games will air on truTV. A featured second or third round game in each time "window" will be broadcast terrestrially on CBS, while all other games will be shown either on TBS, TNT or TruTV. Sweet 16 (regional semifinal) games would be broadcast on CBS and TBS, while all games from the Elite Eight (regional final) onwards would be shown on CBS exclusively until 2016, when the CBS/TBS sharing of the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds begin. March Madness On Demand (now called March Madness Live) remained unchanged, with Turner Interactive taking over management of both that service and NCAA.com as of the start on 2011. The contract was expected to be signed after a review by the NCAA Board of Directors. In 2012, the service was changed; only games televised by CBS are available for free. Free access to games televised by TBS, TNT and TruTV are only accessible to subscribers of these networks on participating television providers. A four-hour trial period is available for games on cable, after which the user must authenticate.
The same number of "windows" are provided to CBS as before, although unlike with the old schedule where all games in a window started within 10 minutes of each other, resulting in the possibility of multiple close games ending at once, the start times of games are staggered, with action lasting later in the night and fewer simultaneous games than in the previous format. As a result of the new deal, Mega March Madness, a pay-per-viewout-of-market sports package covering games in the tournament, was discontinued.
The CBS/Turner coverage formally begins with The Selection Show, the official unveiling of the teams participating in the tournament, which follows CBS's coverage of its the final game on Selection Sunday. Since 2013, however, CBS began using the March Madness presentation during coverage of conference championship games being broadcast by CBS, although still branded as NCAA on CBS telecasts. During the tournament itself, TruTV broadcasts pre-game coverage, Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off, while TBS and TruTV also air the post-game show Inside March Madness presented by Buick.
Contrary to their originally announced plans, Turner's involvement in the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds would instead begin in 2014—two years earlier than planned. TBS would air two Elite Eight games in 2014, and have exclusive rights to the Final Four round. However, until 2016 (when it will begin alternating between TBS and CBS), the national championship game will still air on CBS. This marked the first time that the Final Four was not televised on over-the-air television. Additionally, for 2014, truTV and TNT aired special "Teamcast" coverage of Final Four alongside TBS's conventional coverage, which featured commentators and other guests representing the schools in each game. While the consortium planned to tap local radio announcers from each team for the teamcasts, the majority refused due to commitments in calling the games for their local radio networks. However, Turner Sports' senior vice president of production, Craig Barry, did expect such difficulties, and planned accordingly with the possibility of using talent from outlets associated with the team or their conference (such as regional networks).
While most of the coverage is simulcast from the main U.S. feeds, coverage of the Final Four and national championship game uses a separate world feed produced by the ESPN College Basketball staff; since 2013, the Final Four on ESPN International has been called by Dick Vitale on play-by-play.
Other college basketball coverage from Turner Sports
As previously mentioned, all four networks use a variation of the CBS College Basketball Theme during the tournament. Although CBS uses this arrangement for the tournament, they still use the arrangement that has been in use since 2004 during its regular season coverage.
During all intros and outros into commercial breaks in the 2014 coverage, all broadcasters are using Shot At The Night by The Killers as the theme music.