SBD/Issue 123/Sports Media

CBS To Telecast NCAA Tourney Final Four In 3D In Select Theaters

Final Four Games To Become Latest
High-Profile Sporting Event Shown In 3D

CBS Sports will show the semifinals and championship game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 3D, marking the latest high-profile sports event to be shown in the enhanced format. The net has struck a deal with Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. to show the Final Four games in 100 movie theaters nationwide. Pricing has yet to be established. CBS additionally selected Pace Technologies, whose 3D involvement includes work with the NBA and the record-setting Hollywood epic "Avatar," to aid with the production, with the choice based significantly on the firm's prior background with shooting basketball in 3D. "This is another experiment. We're looking to learn as much as we can," said CBS Sports Senior VP/Operations & Production Ken Aagaard. LG Electronics USA will aid CBS and Cinedigm in the 3D production and has signed on as the official 3D sponsor for the tournament. The American subsidiary of the South Korean electronics giant will use the event as a run-up to the release of 3D-enabled TVs and Blu-Ray players this May in the U.S. The net will be making its 3D debut with the Final Four. "We've spent a lot of time observing and studying the other 3D (sports) productions, and they've all helped. We're all helping each other along. This should be a unique broadcast." Aagaard added the 3D production is a likely forerunner for future such efforts by the network in football (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said that coverage "will be a separate production -- using announcers Dave Ryan and Steve Lappas -- from CBS' TV coverage" (USA TODAY, 3/10). DAILY VARIETY's David Cohen notes CBS "will use five 3D cameras from Pace Technologies: one over the backboard, one handheld under each basket and two in the stands." Aagaard: "You'll see a lot of low angles. We won't be cutting very much so you get that 3D experience" (DAILY VARIETY, 3/10).

FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS: McManus and NCAA Senior VP/Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen yesterday declined to disclose what, if anything, might happen to the NCAA tournament in terms of CBS' future broadcast rights or a potential expansion to 96 teams. McManus said he intends to retain tournament rights "as long we can," and that the network has a history of retaining key properties. However, he offered no specifics on potential outcomes once its NCAA deal expires in '13 or before then. Shaheen said of potential expansion to the tournament, which remains far and away the NCAA's key revenue source, "Nothing is decided or a done deal, despite what you may have read. There is a very extensive examination (of the tournament) going on, and the discussions thus far have been productive and the feedback essential" (Fisher). McManus said, "We've always done a good job of renewing rights. I would like to think that that would follow through the NCAA tournament also" (NEWSDAY, 3/10). Meanwhile, he said of the tournament possibly expanding to 96 teams, "I'd think that would be too much inventory for one network to cover" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/10).

CBS To Employ Constant Feed In Home Markets
To Avoid Issues Similar To Siena-Louisville Game

PUT DOWN THE REMOTE: In Albany, Pete Dougherty notes CBS in the home markets of competing tournament teams employs what it calls a "'constant' feed, whereby the network will not switch those stations out of the game of local interest." But the net "will try to update viewers of other games going on simultaneously, and that's where the trouble arose" last year. CBS "missed several minutes of pivotal action" during the second-round Siena-Louisville contest to "show the ends of other games." Siena led 63-59 when viewers were taken away and then trailed 68-63 when viewers were returned to the game. CBS Exec VP/Programming Mike Aresco said, "In most cases, it's just not worth going away. The rest of the country, yeah, we would switch around, but in the home markets, we'd be inclined to keep people there" (Albany TIMES UNION, 3/10).

HAIL TO THE CHIEF: McManus yesterday said that he has made a standing offer to President Obama, long a passionate college basketball fan, to be part of the net's broadcast, "up to and including Jim Nantz's role." While McManus was being humorous on that point, he remains committed to having Obama involved in any way possible. The President earlier this season appeared on CBS' telecast of Duke-Georgetown (Fisher).

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