The NCAA announced a major new TV agreement Thursday that will significantly expand coverage of its men's basketball tournament.
While many thought the NCAA Tournament field would expand to 96 teams this offseason, the organization also announced that late Wednesday the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee unanimously passed a recommendation to increase tournament field from 65 teams to 68 teams beginning in 2011.
The measure must be approved by the NCAA Board of Directors, which is scheduled to meet April 29. The group typically passes most legislation that has been approved by its committees.
The NCAA reached a 14-year television, Internet and wireless rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., to present the NCAA Tournament from 2011 through 2024 for more than $10.8 billion. As part of the agreement, all games will be shown live across four national networks beginning in 2011 – a first for the 73-year old championship.
In the past, CBS would broadcast select NCAA Tournament games based on regional interest. More games were available on CBS' high definition channel and via satellite television service. All games were streamed live online free of charge on the NCAA and CBS Web sites. However, a typical television viewer without premium service could expect to miss more than half of the first and second round games.
"This is an important day for intercollegiate athletics and the 400,000 student-athletes who compete in NCAA sports," NCAA interim president Jim Isch said in a news release issued by the NCAA. "This agreement will provide on average more than $740 million annually to our conferences and member schools to help student-athletes in 23 sports learn and compete."
Beginning with the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the opening round often referred to as a play-in game, first round and second round games will be shown nationally on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. CBS and Turner will split coverage of the regional semi-final games. CBS will provide coverage of the regional finals and the Final Four through 2015.
In 2016, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner. Coverage of the Final Four will alternate every year between the CBS and Turner's TBS.
CBS Sports has broadcast the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship since 1982. This year's broadcast of the Championship game earned an average national household rating/share of 14.2/23, up 31 percent from a 10.8/18 last year, the highest rating in five years.
Under the new rights agreement, NCAA March Madness on Demand will continue to be launched from NCAA.com and CBSSports.com. Turner has also secured the rights for any Time Warner digital property. The player will be operated and developed by Turner and have enhanced digital rights allowing the NCAA to deliver content for multiple Turner and Time Warner platforms.
Under the new multimedia contract, the NCAA stated about 96 percent of the deal's revenue will be used to benefit students through programs, services or direct distribution to member conferences and schools.
Read Iliana Limón's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/knightsnotepad and e-mail her at email@example.com.
NCAA Tournament expected to expand to 68 teams, inks mega deal with CBS, Turner
First and second round March Madness NCAA Tournament games will be broadcast on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV beginning in 2011
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