It appears that the NCAA has signed a new contract for the broadcast rights for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The New York Times reports that CBS and Turner Broadcasting jointly purchased the rights to televise March Madness from 2011 to 2024 for $10.8 billion dollars. The good news is that the contract calls for a field of just 68 teams. That means an expansion from one to to four “play-in” games on Tuesday – presumably the winners of these four games will play the #1 seeds. There will not be a bloated 96 team NCAA Tournament. Let the celebration begin!
The bad part is that games will be shown on the TBS family of channels, including TruTV, which used to be CourtTV, known for true crime offerings. Could be appropriate, since the early round performance of Big East busts like Georgetown and Villanova in the Big Dance bordered on criminal last month. Worse, beginning in 2016, the Regional Finals and Final Four games will rotate between CBS and TBS. That’s right, as soon as 2016 the National Championship game will be broadcast on cable. Won’t that be special?
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors still has to approve the deal.