The Final Four is coming to TBS.
The Times Union's Pete Dougherty reports a massive change in the coverage of the final rounds of the NCAA men's basketball championship:
CBS Sports and Turner Sports made a joint announcement this morning that the NCAA Basketball Tournament national semifinals in 2014 and 2015 will be broadcast by TBS.
CBS will broadcast the NCAA national championship game in both of those years. Beginning in 2016, the networks will alternate Final Four coverage, with TBS owning those rights in 2016.
Because sharing is caring, Dougherty goes on to report the next 11 years will see the rights to the regional finals and semifinals split between CBS and TBS.
Fans may already be used to the wide swath of networks covering one of the best tournaments in sports. As the report indicates, the airing of earlier rounds that we've become accustomed to in recent years won't change. You will still get wall-to-wall coverage on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV.
If you are wondering what initiated the change, the impetus is an agreement the two networks signed back in 2011 that called for the annual swap. As part of full disclosure, Bleacher Report is owned by Turner Sports Network.
Both networks offered their assessment of the deal in statements posted to the Times Union. Turner's president of sales, distribution and sports, David Levy, offered, "Since the inception of our partnership, I don’t think we could have envisioned such a seamless collaboration between our two companies both in front of and behind the cameras."
Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, had similar thoughts.
From the beginning, our partnership with Turner Sports has exceeded every one of our expectations. Today’s news represents another win-win arrangement that continues to help us extend the reach of this marquee property by combining the resources of our two organizations.
"Seamless" is a beautiful way of looking at how things have worked since 2011. Fans have had access to every exciting moment of the initial rounds across four networks, which has prepared a captivated audience for an annual sharing of the later rounds.
If there is a way to split one of the year's biggest sporting events in a sensible manner that benefits the viewer, it certainly seems as if TBS and CBS have done just that.
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