SBD/February 10, 2011/Media

CBS, Turner Unveil Coverage Plans For NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

The new-look coverage will feature games extending to midnight on opening Sunday
CBS and Turner Sports today formally announced plans for their joint coverage of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, allowing viewers to "see every game in its entirety," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. This year's tournament will feature "new tip-off times and action in new time slots," and the "big idea, particularly in early-round coverage, is spreading out the time between tip-offs." With each game "getting full coverage on CBS or Turner's TBS, TNT or truTV cable channels, tip-offs will be spaced further apart." That is designed to "let viewers focus on the game of their choice and still have time to flip to buzzer-beaters in other games." CBS and Turner also will "extend coverage." On the tournament's first Sunday, action "will continue until about midnight ET on Turner," a change from previous years when NCAA games "used to end in time for CBS to air '60 Minutes' and its prime-time lineup on TV's most-watched night" (USA TODAY, 2/10). SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted staggered start times will allow viewers to "toggle between games, as well as get added pre- and postgame show commentary from CBS and Turner talent." CBS will air 26 games throughout the tournament. TBS will broadcast 16 games, truTV will televise 13 and TNT 12. CBS will carry all three Final Four games, on April 2 and 4, while truTV will have a "one-hour tip-off show leading up to CBS' coverage on April 4 and conclude with the postgame show sometime around midnight" (SI.com, 2/10).

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: USA TODAY's Hiestand writes the joint coverage plans should make the tournament "much better" for fans with cable TV. It will "seem more like regular TV sports." Because NCAA viewers "will be scattered across four channels, individual game ratings probably will drop," but total viewership "probably will increase" (USA TODAY, 2/10).
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