ESPN College Basketball on ABC

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College Basketball on ABC
GenreCollege basketball telecasts
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons23
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time120 minutes or until end of game
Production company(s)ABC Sports
Original networkABC
Picture format480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseJanuary 18, 1987 (1987-01-18) –
March 16, 2014 (2014-03-16)

ESPN College Basketball on ABC (originally College Basketball on ABC) is the branding formerly used for broadcasts of NCAA Division I college basketball games produced by ESPN, and televised on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). ABC broadcast select college basketball games during the 1960s and 1970s, before it began televising them on a regular basis on January 18, 1987 (involving a game between the LSU Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats). As CBS and NBC were also broadcasting college games at the time, this put the sport on all three major broadcast television networks. ABC's final regular college basketball broadcast aired on March 7, 2009 (between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners).

Coverage overview[edit]

1962, 1973, 1978[edit]

ABC first broadcast college basketball games in 1962, when the network aired the NCAA Championship Game on a day-behind delayed basis, as part of its Wide World of Sports anthology series. On December 15, 1973, ABC aired what is considered to be the first[1] telecast of a regular season college basketball game by a major broadcast network (between UCLA and North Carolina State in St. Louis). ABC (which had recently lost the NBA rights to CBS) televised this game using its former NBA announcing crew of Keith Jackson and Bill Russell.

In the 1977–78 season, C.D. Chesley (who controlled the rights to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) at the time) wanted NBC to televise select ACC games as part of its national package as it had done the previous few years. However, NBC wanted to feature intersectional games. This action greatly upset Chesley, who wound up selling the rights to the ACC Tournament final to ABC. ABC would televise the 1978 ACC Tournament final as part of Wide World of Sports. The game, called by Jim Lampley and Bill Russell, marked the first time Duke University's Blue Devils basketball team played on national television.


When ABC's coverage[2][3] began in 1987,[4] the network primarily covered[5][6] the Big Ten, Big 8 and Pac-10 Conferences. By 1991 (around the time NBC was phasing out their own college basketball coverage), ABC ramped up its basketball coverage in an effort to fill the void.[7] As a result, the network also started to cover games focusing on teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Southeastern Conference (SEC). Otherwise, it was essentially, a considerable hodge-podge with an ACC game one week, or a Pac-10 or Big 10 game the next. The games that were broadcast were a hodge-podge of conference matchups even after the ESPN on ABC brand change, with SEC and Big East match-ups occasionally being shown alongside frequent ACC, Big 12 and Pac-10 match-ups.

ABC's early regular season broadcasts were, for the most part, technically time buys from organizations such as Raycom[8][9] (particularly, around 1990–91) or sister network ESPN. This in return, was a way to avoid union contracts which require that 100% of network shows had to use crew staff who were network union members.[10] During the early 1990s, Raycom paid ABC US$1.8 million for six weeks of network airtime of 26 regional games. The format allowed Raycom to control the games and sell the advertising.[11]

In the 1987–88 season, ABC did not air any college basketball games during the last three weekends of February due to the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics. Coverage by ABC steadily increased during the early 1990s; by the 1991–92 season, ABC was carrying regional games in many timeslots on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. By 1997, ABC's presenting sponsor was Paine Webber.[12]

Starting in 1997, coverage of the PGA Tour limited the number of games that the network showed; this continued through 2006. Coverage of the NBA further decreased college basketball coverage on the network when ABC Sports acquired the broadcast rights to the league (through a production arrangement with ESPN) beginning in 2002. Beginning with the 2007 season, all games were rebranded as part of the integration of ABC Sports into ESPN as ESPN on ABC (meaning that all sports telecasts on ABC would exclusively feature ESPN's graphics, music and announcers) and Sunday games were discontinued. From 2007 to 2009, all games began at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, which was a departure from the differing broadcast times that were previously assigned to the game telecasts. From 2010 to 2013, ABC broadcast the semi-finals and finals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament. In 2014, ABC only broadcast the semi-final round of the tournament.


All rankings are from that week's Coaches Poll.

2006 schedule[edit]


Date Time Away Home Broadcast notes
January 21 1:00 Texas Tech 48 #25 Oklahoma 60
6:00 California 55 Arizona 60 West Coast only
February 11 3:30 Charlotte 56 Wake Forest 59 Split-national
Oklahoma State 44 Texas A&M 46 Split-national
#13 UCLA 67 #21 Washington 70 Split-national
February 18 1:00 #21 NC State 70 Virginia Tech 64 Split-national
Iowa State 82 #19 Oklahoma 83 Split-national
6:00 #5 Gonzaga 79 Loyola Marymount 70 West Coast only
February 19 1:30 #23 North Carolina 83 Wake Forest 72 Split-national
#6 Texas 60 Oklahoma State 81 Split-national
February 25 1:00 Wake Forest 61 Georgia Tech 76 Split-national
Texas Tech 63 Oklahoma State 74 Split-national
7:00 Stanford 39 Washington State 37 West Coast only

2007 schedule[edit]

For the 2007 season, ABC introduced a standardized time of 3:30 for its college basketball broadcasts.


Date Away Home Broadcast notes
January 13 #1 North Carolina 88 Virginia Tech 94 Split-national
Oklahoma 69 #25 Texas 80 Split-national
January 20 #17 Duke 73 North Carolina State 56
February 3 #3 North Carolina 79 North Carolina State 83 Split-national
Kansas State 73 #23 Texas 72 Split-national
February 10 #8 Kansas 92 Missouri 74 Split-national
Arizona 77 #15 Oregon 74 Split-national
February 17 Connecticut 63 Syracuse 73 Split-national
Tennessee 64 South Carolina 81 Split-national
#6 Texas A&M 56 Oklahoma 49 Split-national
February 24 #16 Marquette 73 #23 Notre Dame 85 Split-national (58% of the United States)
Georgia Tech 69 #19 Virginia 75 Split-national (26% of the United States)
Gonzaga 86 San Francisco 79 Split-national (16% of the United States)
March 3 North Carolina State 59 Maryland 79 Split-national (56% of the United States)
Oklahoma 61 Kansas State 72 Split-national (24% of the United States)
Arizona 85 Stanford 80 Split-national (20% of the United States)

2008 schedule[edit]


ABC began broadcasting college basketball games in high definition for the 2008 season.
Date Away Home Broadcast notes
January 19 Maryland 82 #5 North Carolina 80
February 2 Miami 73 #3 Duke 88 Split-national
#2 Kansas 72 Colorado 59 Split-national (no HD)
February 9 Virginia 64 Wake Forest 80 Split-national
#12 Texas 71 Iowa State 65 Split-national
Southern California 50 #17 Washington State 74 Split-national (no HD)
February 16 Oklahoma State 59 #16 Texas A&M 54 Split-national
#7 Stanford 67 Arizona 66 Split-national
February 23 Oklahoma 45 #7 Texas 62 Split-national (no HD)
Oregon 65 #6 UCLA 75 Split-national (no HD)
March 1 #3 North Carolina 90 Boston College 80
March 8 Georgia Tech 86 Boston College 78 Split-national
Missouri 66 Oklahoma 75 Split-national (no HD)
California 80 #3 UCLA 81 Split-national

2009 schedule[edit]


Date Away Home Broadcast notes
January 17 #3 Wake Forest 78 #9 Clemson 68 Split-national (70% of the United States)
Kansas 73 Colorado 56 Split-national (30% of the United States)
January 31 #6 North Carolina 93 North Carolina State 76 Split-national (78% of the United States)
Stanford 63 #16 UCLA 97 Split-national (22% of the United States)
February 7 Oklahoma State 67 #24 Kansas 78 Split-national (82% of the United States)
Arizona 87 Oregon 77 Split-national (18% of the United States)
February 14 #16 Kansas 85 Kansas State 74 Split-national (75% of the United States)
Florida 86 Georgia 88 Split-national (25% of the United States)
February 21 #3 North Carolina 85 Maryland 88
February 28 #7 Duke 72 Virginia Tech 65 Split-national (81% of the United States)
#3 Oklahoma 78 Texas Tech 63 Split-national (19% of the United States)
March 7 Oklahoma State 78 #5 Oklahoma 82 Split-national (59% of the United States)
Maryland 63 Virginia 68 Split-national (23% of the United States)
Oregon 68 #17 UCLA 94 Split-national (18% of the United States, no HD)


In the early years of ABC's regular college basketball coverage, Keith Jackson[17][18] and Dick Vitale[19][20] were the primary announcing crew, while Gary Bender[21] was the secondary play-by-play announcer behind Jackson. Meanwhile, Al Michaels[22] did regional games during this period. When Brent Musburger[23] came over from CBS in late 1990, he started working with Dick Vitale on the main team. Jim Valvano[24][25] did color commentary on games for ABC for a few years until his death in 1993; Vitale and Valvano were paired as co-analysts on ABC's college basketball broadcasts a few times during the 1991–92 season. In the 1992–93 season, Terry Gannon filled in on a few games for Valvano, who at the time was battling cancer, which would ultimately claim his life in April 1993. Many of the announcers worked for ABC and ESPN, and ABC continued to use ESPN announcers, reporters and commentators until 2009, never quite establishing firm ABC broadcasting teams even after the ESPN on ABC brand switch.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Milestone firsts in college basketball TV history". Classic Sports TV and Media. November 15, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  2. ^ William Oscar Johnson; William Taaffe (December 26, 1988). "A Whole New Game". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. Meanwhile the cupboards of the other two networks are comparatively bare. Once the colossus of TV sports, ABC has a good college-football package, Monday Night Football (a so-so performer these days); a middling college-basketball contract; and a number of individual events, including the Triple Crown races, the Indianapolis 500, the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and golf's U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. ABC's biggest shortcoming, at least in terms of prestige, is that for the first time since 1960 it doesn't have either a Winter or Summer Games in its lineup. Indeed, after losing the Barcelona Olympics, the network decided not to adorn a new truck, which it had recently ordered, with its traditional ABC Sports Olympic slogan.
  3. ^ William Oscar Johnson (December 12, 1988). "A Golden Opportunity". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. Not only that, but ABC, the once reigning champion of TV sports, is widely expected to deal itself out of baseball's new television contract, which will be announced later this month. This would leave the network with week-to-week sports programming consisting of the NFL's less-than-splendid Monday Night Football, some college football, lots of golf and a college basketball package that doesn't include the NCAA Final Four.
  4. ^ ABC Intershow February 1987 on YouTube
  5. ^ "ABC Men's College Basketball TV Schedule".
  6. ^ William F. Reed (December 12, 1988). "College Basketball". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. The Big Four Classic has two more years left in its TV contract with ABC; if NCAA sanctions, that Kentucky seems sure to get, include no regular-season TV appearances, what would the Big Four do? Postpone the classic until the Cats get out of the doghouse? Play as scheduled with ABC televising only the game not involving Kentucky? Replace the Wildcats with, say, Western Kentucky?
  7. ^ 90's Commercials Vol. 60 on YouTube
  8. ^ "Sports4". Online Sports. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. The biggest time-buy arrangement is between Raycom and ABC. For the 1991–92 season, it paid ABC $1.8 million for six weeks of air time—13 telecasts—covering 26 college basketball games regionally. Raycom used ABC on-air talent including Brent Musburger, Dick Vitale, Jim Valvano, Gary Bender, Cheryl Miller, and Mark Jones.
  9. ^ "PaineWebber to sponsor ABC/Raycom college basketball".
  10. ^ William Taaffe (October 12, 1987). "It's Bottom-line Time". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. Also revealing is ABC's whirlwind use of network crews on last season's college basketball games. The cameramen and technicians typically arrived at an arena to set up at around 2:00 a.m. on the day of the game so the network could save on expenses. They then caught a few hours' sleep, returned to the arena to televise the game, broke down the equipment and flew home so as not to run up costs the following day.
  11. ^ Richard Sandomir (January 31, 1992). "TV SPORTS; Syndicator Gives ABC Easy Fast Break on Profit". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  12. ^ Handful of March 1997 ABC commercials on YouTube
  13. ^ "2006 College Basketball TV Schedule". Matt Sarz Sports. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  14. ^ "2007 College Basketball TV Schedule". Matt Sarz Sports. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  15. ^ "2008 College Basketball TV Schedule". Matt Sarz Sports. Archived from the original on May 19, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  16. ^ "2009 College Basketball TV Schedule". Matt Sarz Sports. Archived from the original on January 16, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  17. ^ "Abc's Keith Jackson: A Hoss Of A Broadcaster".
  18. ^ William Taaffe (February 9, 1987). Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. During ABC's series of Sunday afternoon games KJ will team with DV, Dick Vitale, who has made his name as a wild and crazy commentator on ESPN. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Biography of Dick Vitale". Dick Vitale Online. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2012. He has been a college basketball analyst for ABC Sports since 1988, and has also covered the NBA Finals and the 1992 Summer Olympics for ABC Radio.
  20. ^ Jack McCallum (November 2, 1987). "In Your Face, Comrades!". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. And for just a moment Dick Vitale actually lowered his voice. Later, Vitale, who did color commentary on ABC's telecast of Sunday's game, interviewed Gomelsky.
  21. ^ "Biography of Gary Bender". 1987–1991: Sportscaster for ABC covering college football, basketball and Monday Night Football
  22. ^ Michaels also has worked on ABC's "NCAA Football' and college basketball telecasts, in addition to covering a variety of "ABC's Wide World of Sports" events and "The Superstars." Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "Brent Musberger bio". ESPN. A preeminent voice of college football and college basketball play-by-play, Musburger also hosted the 1991 Pan American Games from Cuba.
  24. ^ "Valvano Agrees To 3-Year Abc Deal". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Archived from the original on May 16, 2011 – via HighBeam Research.
  25. ^ "Take The V Out Of Tv, Please". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc.
Preceded by
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship television broadcaster
Succeeded by