SBD/March 12, 2013/Media

The Madness Begins: CBS, Turner In Talks For Turner To Air Final Four As Soon As Next Year

Turner per the deal was set to begin televising the Final Four in '16
CBS and Turner are negotiating to allow Turner to show the Final Four as soon as next year, as part of an option that is included in their NCAA Tournament deal. Plans have not been finalized, but several sources say that Turner is likely to have the Final Four in '14, which would place another premiere sports championship on cable. Under terms of the 14-year, $10.8B deal CBS and Turner signed in '10, Turner was set to begin televising the Final Four in '16. CBS and Turner released a statement to THE DAILY last night that said, "As part of the original 14-year deal, there was a provisional option for rotation of the Final Four and National Championship to begin in 2014. There is currently no time timetable for a decision." Sources said no money or other assets are changing hands as part of these negotiations. It is not known why the two networks are considering making the move (Ourand & Smith, Staff Writers).

BOOTH MOVES: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand noted the nets yesterday announced several personnel changes to their NCAA men's basketball tournament coverage. Doug Gottlieb will serve as a "studio analyst as well as game analyst with play-by-play announcer Spero Dedes," while Rachel Nichols and Allie LaForce will join the coverage as sideline reporters. Marv Albert and Steve Kerr will call the First Four games March 19 on truTV; announcers for the First Four games March 20 have yet to be determined. The CBS/Turner on-air crew otherwise "will return intact" (USATODAY.com, 3/11). AWFUL ANNOUNCING’s Matt Yoder wrote entering the third year of the CBS-Turner deal “it's clear the experiment has been a victory for basketball fans everywhere.” Yoder: “Not only do you get every game available to you in its entirety, but the depth in broadcast quality for March Madness eclipses any other sports property with Turner's NBA personalities combining with CBS's impressive stable of announcers.” With the NBA announcers “improving last year in their analysis of the college game," fans should "expect the strongest tournament yet from the broadcast side” (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/11).

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANALYST SIDELINE
Jim Nantz Clark Kellogg Tracy Wolfson
Marv Albert Steve Kerr Craig Sager
Verne Lundquist Bill Raftery Rachel Nichols
Kevin Harlan Reggie Miller & Len Elmore Lewis Johnson
Ian Eagle Jim Spanarkel Allie LaForce
Brian Anderson Dan Bonner Marty Snider
Tim Brando Mike Gminski Otis Livingston
Spero Dedes Doug Gottlieb Jaime Maggio

FREE SAMPLE: CABLEFAX DAILY confirmed a SportsBusiness Journal report from last month that CBS and Turner are “offering a free 4-hour preview option before requiring viewer registration” to watch live streaming of the tournament through March Madness Live. The networks last year “charged fans a one-time $3.99/person fee to stream games if they didn’t authenticate.” The four-hour period, which “can be divvied up across multiple games, is designed to give subs who aren’t familiar with the credential process the opportunity to catch a game or two without delay.” Turner Sports Senior VP & GM of Operations Matthew Hong said, “The industry is much further along with TV Everywhere. We’re moving almost fully to a TV Everywhere model.” The trial period is “a fallback for those who haven’t previously registered for TVE.” The authentication process will be “consistent with other products in the market” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 3/12).
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