NCAA March Madness (CBS/Turner)

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NCAA March Madness (CBS/TBS/TNT/TruTV/CBS Sports Network)
Ncaa mm hdr.jpg
Genre College basketball telecasts
Opening theme "CBS College Basketball Theme" (2011–present)
"Fiesta" by Denise Rosenthal (Galavision)
"Shot at the Night," by The Killers (2014)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
Location(s) Various NCAA tournament sites (game telecasts)
CBS Broadcast Center, New York City, New York
Turner Sports Studios, Atlanta, Georgia (pregame and postgame shows)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 120 minutes or until game ends
Production company(s) CBS Sports
Turner Sports
Original network CBS
CBS Sports Network (game re-airs)
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original release March 15, 2011 (2011-03-15) – present
Related shows College Basketball on CBS (CBS) CBS Sports Network

NCAA March Madness is the branding used for coverage of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament that is jointly produced by CBS Sports, the sports division of the CBS television network, and Turner Sports, the sports division of the Turner Broadcasting System in the United States. Through the agreement between CBS and Turner, which began with the 2011 tournament, games are televised on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV. CBS Sports Network re-aired games from all networks.

Initially, CBS will continue to provide coverage during most rounds, with the three Turner channels covering much of the early rounds up to the Sweet Sixteen. Starting in 2016, the regional finals, Final Four and national championship game will begin to alternate between CBS and TBS.[1] TBS will hold the rights to the final two rounds in even numbered years, with CBS getting the games in odd numbered years.[2]

This joint tournament coverage should be distinguished from CBS's regular-season coverage, which it produces independently through its sports division. Turner does not currently cover regular-season college basketball games, outside of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. However, games broadcast on all four networks use a variation of the longtime CBS College Basketball theme music.

Background and coverage breakdown[edit]

On April 22, 2010, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reached a 14-year agreement, worth US$10.8 billion, with CBS and the Turner Broadcasting System to receive joint broadcast rights to the NCAA "March Madness" college basketball tournament. This came after speculation that ESPN would try to obtain the rights to future tournament games.[3] 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, incidentally, jointly owns The CW with the CBS television network's corporate parent CBS Corporation). The new contract came amid serious consideration by the NCAA of expanding the tournament to 68 teams.

The agreement, which runs through 2024, allows all games of the tournament to be broadcast on national television for the first time in history. All first four games will air on TruTV. A featured second-round or third-round game in each time "window" will be broadcast terrestrially on CBS, while all other games will be shown on TBS, TNT or TruTV. Sweet 16 (regional semifinal) games will be broadcast on CBS and TBS, while all games from the Elite Eight (regional final) onwards will be shown on CBS exclusively until 2016, when the CBS-TBS sharing of the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds begins. March Madness On Demand (now called March Madness Live) remained unchanged, with Turner Interactive taking over management of both that service and at the start of 2011. The contract was expected to be signed after a review by the NCAA Board of Directors.[4] In 2012, the service was changed; only games televised by CBS, plus the national semifinals and final regardless of the broadcaster, are available for free. All other games televised by TBS, TNT and TruTV are only accessible for free to subscribers of participating television providers that carry any of these networks. A trial period, originally four hours but now shortened to three, is available for games on cable, after which the user must provide an authentication via provider confirmation and a user-submitted password to continue streaming.[5][6]

The same number of "windows" are provided to CBS as before, although unlike with the previous 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,[7] with action lasting later in the night and fewer simultaneous games than in the previous format.[8] As a result of the new deal, Mega March Madness, a pay-per-view out-of-market sports package covering games in the tournament, was discontinued.[9]

The CBS-Turner coverage formally begins with The Selection Show—in which the teams participating in the tournament are announced, which follows CBS's coverage of the final game on Selection Sunday. Since 2013, however, CBS has begun using the March Madness graphics and music during coverage of conference tournaments being broadcast by CBS (and beginning the following year, CBS Sports Network) in the days prior, although they are still branded as NCAA on CBS telecasts and are part of CBS's existing conference contracts. 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 instead began in 2014 – two years earlier than planned. TBS aired two Elite Eight games in 2014, and had 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.[10]

Additionally, for 2014, TruTV and TNT aired special "Teamcast" coverage of the Final Four alongside TBS's conventional coverage, which featured commentators and other guests representing the schools in each game.[11][12] 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, general region, or their conference (such as regional networks).[13][14] The Teamcast feeds returned for the 2015 tournament, now branded as Team Stream powered by Bleacher Report.[15][16] The "Team Stream" feeds will return for 2016.

Other college basketball coverage from Turner Sports[edit]

Prior to 2011, Turner Sports' best known association with college basketball perhaps occurred on December 11, 1982, when TBS (with the aid of more than 100 independent network affiliates and stations[17]) broadcast a contest between Virginia and Georgetown[18][19] (led by Ralph Sampson and Patrick Ewing[20] respectively). The game in question (in which TBS paid approximately US$600,000[21] for the broadcasting rights) was called by Skip Caray[22] and Abe Lemons.

The consortium also produces coverage of the Reese's College All-Star Game, and the Division II championship game, which are both aired by CBS.

Beginning in 2012, TruTV also began to air the preseason Coaches vs. Cancer Classic as part of a separate deal between Turner Sports and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.[23]

International coverage[edit]

The same year that the CBS-Turner consortium took over, ESPN International acquired rights to the tournament for broadcast outside of the United States for networks such as TSN in Canada.[24][25]

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 broadcasts on ESPN International have been called by ESPN's main commentary team of Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale.[26]


CBS and Turner pool their resources for the tournament, with TNT's NBA broadcast teams joining with those from CBS. Coverage originates from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City, and the Turner Sports studio in Atlanta, where many of the studio shows for the latter division's coverage of the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball emanate from.[27]

CBS' college basketball studio host Greg Gumbel and Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson, Jr. split hosting duties in the New York studio while NBA TV's Matt Winer hosts in the Atlanta studio. Johnson's colleagues on Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, join CBS analyst Clark Kellogg in the studio in New York City while Winer is joined by his NBA TV colleague Steve Smith and CBS' Seth Davis in Atlanta.

Theme music[edit]

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, Spanish coverage Galavision used Fiesta by Chilean Singer Denise Rosenthal, all broadcasters used Shot At The Night by The Killers as the theme/bumper music.


  1. ^ "NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament Expands To 68 Teams; CBS Adds Turner To Television Team". CBS (Press release). TV by the Numbers (Zap2It/Tribune Media). April 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ "CBS cuts in Turner on NCAA basketball tournament". Los Angeles Times. April 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ Don Surber. "ESPN to snag the Final Four?". The Daily Mail. 
  4. ^ "CBS, Turner win TV rights to tourney". ESPN. Retrieved April 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Turner's Expanded TV Everywhere Presence Should Boost Delivery of NCAA March Madness Live". Multichannel News. March 16, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ "You’ll Never Miss That Game Again". Multichannel News. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ "NCAA tournament changing schedule to air more games in full". ESPN. February 10, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  8. ^ "CBS Sports, Turner Sports Unveil TV Schedule For 2011 March Madness Tournament". TVNewser. Mediabistro, Inc. February 10, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  9. ^ Games "Turner Networks To Air 41 March Madness Tournament" Check |url= value (help). Multichannel News. February 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Fast Break: TBS to Air Final Four in 2014: College hoops title game shifts to cable in 3 years". Adweek. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Choose your perspective". Sports Business Journal. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ "March Madness: CBS To Move Up National Championship Tip Time". Multichannel News. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Local Voices Aren’t So Eager to Go National". The New York Times. March 29, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  14. ^ "A conversation with vice president of the NCAA tournament, Dan Gavitt". Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Final Four Teamcasts Will Return In 2015". Awful Announcing. February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  16. ^ "TNT/truTV Final Four Teamcasts To Be Branded "Team Stream by Bleacher Report"". Awful Announcing. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015. 
  17. ^ Greg Stoda (December 10, 1982). "Battle of giants forms collation". Star-News. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
  18. ^ Fred Rothenberg (July 22, 1982). "Superstation Wtbs Fights Network Methods, Programs". Toledo Blade. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
  19. ^ Chris Richard (July 22, 1982). "Awesome Basketball Game Spotlights Sampson-Ewing Confrontation". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  20. ^ Peter Meade (December 8, 1982). "The Biggest Showdown?". The Times-News. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
  21. ^ Larry Siddens (September 16, 1982). "Court Ruling Is Made On Televised NCAA Athletics". Daily Times. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Hawks Relive Caray Of Announcing Duties". The Palm Beach Post. 4 February 1983. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  23. ^ Ken Fang (September 14, 2011). "Turner Sports Snatches The Rights To Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Starting in 2012". Fang's Bites. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  24. ^ Bruce Dowbiggin (February 24, 2011). "TSN catches March Madness". Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Archived from the original on April 24, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  25. ^ chappelll (March 10, 2011). "ESPN Europe » ESPN America Tipping Off Exclusive Coverage of NCAA® March Madness®". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Dick Vitale, finally, to call NCAA Final Four action". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  27. ^ Turner Sports (January 18, 2011). "CBS, Turner combine talent rosters". Retrieved January 20, 2011. 

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