When CBS and Turner agreed to work together to buy the rights to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, it was understood that the team would use the Turner networks (TBS, TNT, and TruTV) to broadcast every one of the 68-team tournament's games -- live. That agreement initially kept the biggest games on the event's final weekend on CBS, an over-the-air broadcaster available in every television home in America.
Beginning next season, however, the Turner-owned cable network, TBS, will televise the Final Four's national semifinals over a two-season period, CBS announced today.
From 2014 through 2024, the coverage of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games will be split between TBS and CBS networks. The two national broadcasters have been connected in a 14-year agreement for the exclusive media rights to the NCAA tournament that started in 2010. The first weekend of the event will remain split between four networks, with CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV all picking up games.
Starting in 2016, TBS will broadcast the entire Final Four and National Championship game, and the final weekend will rotate between that network and CBS on a yearly basis from that point.
"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," said David Levy, president of Sales, Distribution and Sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. "Coming off another incredible year of strong ratings and exciting games, the popularity of the NCAA Tournament and Final Four continues to resonate with fans across the country.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to televise the Final Four national semi-final games and two of the Elite Eight games on TBS beginning next year, and for the network to televise its first National Championship game in 2016."
The 2013 tournament was the most-watched in 19 years.