As expected, the Final Four games will air on TBS beginning
CBS and Turner officially exercised an option in their 2010 agreement to broadcast the NCAA Men's Basketball
Tournament, which would allow TBS to air Final Four games two years earlier
Over the next two years, CBS and TBS will share coverage of the Final Four,
with TBS airing both national semifinal games and CBS carrying the national
As part of the original agreement signed in 2010 between CBS
and Turner, TBS was to begin alternating with CBS on Final Four coverage
beginning in 2016. However, an option existed to accelerate that plan to 2014.
TBS and CBS will still begin their plan of alternating full coverage of the
Final Four in 2016, which will run throughout the remainder of the deal through
"This option was always part of the original
deal," said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports,
Turner Broadcasting System, on a conference call with reporters. Levy said the
positive fan reaction the past three years drove them to exercise this option.
"We wanted to come up with a scenario that was better
for both CBS and Turner," explained CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, on
why the two networks decided to share coverage the next two years instead.
"We both agreed that it was important that CBS remain a presence Final
Four weekend and that Turner had the ability to accelerate its presence."
TBS will also split coverage of the four regional final
games the weekend before, giving the network tournament coverage of every round
until the national championship game. Early round action will continue to air
across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.
The 2013 NCAA Tournament averaged 10.7 million total
viewers, the highest average for the tournament in 19 years.
McManus added that the new programming plan "doesn't
change the financial structure" for either company. "I think it's a
further evolution of the deal that will continue to be changed and modified as
we go on."
Levy added that the revised setup allows for a transition
period, where viewers could get used to seeing Final Four games on cable.
"It gave [us] a nice opportunity to have a transition
into the alternating years in 2016 and 2017," he said Levy, adding that it
won't be that hard for viewers to adjust, citing that major sporting events
such as the BCS bowl games and Monday Night Football already air on
"I think people very quickly got used to
the new programming paradigm that we established three years ago," added