NCAA March Madness (CBS/Turner)

NCAA March Madness
Logo used for the 2018 tournament
Genre College basketball telecasts
Opening theme "CBS College Basketball Theme" (main theme, 2011–present)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
Production location(s) Various NCAA tournament sites (game telecasts)
CBS Broadcast Center, New York City
Turner Sports Studios, Atlanta, Georgia (pregame and postgame shows)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 120 minutes or until game ends
Production company(s) CBS Sports
Turner Sports
Original network CBS
CBS Sports Network (game re-airs)
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original release March 15, 2011 (2011-03-15) – present
Related shows College Basketball on CBS
External links

NCAA March Madness is the branding used for coverage of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament that is jointly produced by CBS Sports, the sports division of the CBS television network, and Turner Sports, the sports division of the Turner Broadcasting System in the United States. Through the agreement between CBS and Turner, which began with the 2011 tournament, games are televised on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV. CBS Sports Network has re-aired games from all networks.

Initially, CBS continued to provide coverage during most rounds, with the three Turner channels covering much of the early rounds up to the Sweet Sixteen. Starting in 2016, the regional finals, Final Four and national championship game began to alternate between CBS and TBS.[1][2] TBS holds the rights to the final two rounds in even numbered years, with CBS getting the games in odd numbered years.[1][3]

This joint tournament coverage should be distinguished from CBS's regular-season coverage, which it produces independently through its sports division. Turner does not currently cover regular-season college basketball games. Games broadcast on all four networks use a variation of the longtime CBS College Basketball theme music.

Background and coverage breakdown

On April 22, 2010, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reached a 14-year agreement,[4] worth US$10.8 billion, with CBS and the Turner Broadcasting System to receive joint broadcast rights to the Division I men's college basketball tournament.[1] This came after speculation that ESPN would try to obtain the rights to future tournament games.[5] The NCAA took advantage of an opt-out clause in its 1999 deal with CBS (which ran through 2013, even though the NCAA had the option of ending the agreement after the 2010 championship) to announce its intention to sign a new contract with CBS and Turner Sports, a division of Time Warner (which, incidentally, jointly owns The CW with the CBS television network's corporate parent CBS Corporation). The new contract came amid serious consideration by the NCAA of expanding the tournament to 68 teams.

The agreement, which runs through 2032 (extended from 2024 in 2016),[6] stipulates that all games are available nationally. All First Four games air on truTV. During the first and second rounds, a featured game in each time "window" is broadcast terrestrially on CBS, while all other games are shown on TBS, TNT or TruTV. Sweet 16 (regional semifinal) and Elite 8 (regional finals) games are split among CBS and TBS. In 2014 and 2015, Turner channels had exclusive rights to the Final Four (with standard coverage airing on TBS), and CBS broadcast the championship game. Since 2016, rights to the Final Four and championship game alternate between Turner and CBS; the 2016 tournament marked the first time that the national championship game was not broadcast on over-the-air television.[7]

The same number of "windows" are provided to CBS as before, although unlike with the previous schedule where all games in a window started within 10 minutes of each other, resulting in the possibility of multiple close games ending at once, the start times of games are staggered,[8] with action lasting later in the night and fewer simultaneous games than in the previous format.[9] As a result of the new deal, Mega March Madness, a pay-per-view out-of-market sports package covering games in the tournament, was discontinued.[10]

March Madness On Demand (now called March Madness Live) remained unchanged, with Turner Interactive taking over management of both that service and at the start of 2011. The contract was expected to be signed after a review by the NCAA Board of Directors.[11] In 2012, the service was changed; only games televised by CBS are available for free. All other games are available to authenticated subscribers to the channels on participating television providers. The 2018 tournament, with TBS televising the national semifinals and final, is the first in which those particular games are subject to authentication restrictions.[12][13]

The CBS-Turner coverage formally begins with The Selection Show—in which the teams participating in the tournament are announced, which follows CBS's coverage of the final game on Selection Sunday. During the tournament itself, truTV broadcasts pre-game coverage, Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off, while TBS and TruTV also air the post-game show Inside March Madness. CBS also produces coverage of the Reese's College All-Star Game (held on the afternoon of the Final Four at its venue), and the Division II championship game, which are both aired as part of the March Madness package.

In 2016, CBS extended the selection show to a two-hour format; however, the new special was criticized by viewers for being too padded, while the full bracket was leaked shortly into the broadcast.[14][15] In 2017, the selection show was shortened to a 90-minute format. Beginning with 2018, the selection show will return to a two-hour format, but the special aired on TBS instead, marking the first time since 1982 that the official bracket unveiling has not aired on CBS.[16][17] The Selection Show will now alternate between TBS and CBS with TBS airing the Selection Show in even numbered years, with CBS airing the Selection Show in odd numbered years.[18]

On April 16, 2016, the contract was extended to 2032 in an $8.8 billion deal. The current broadcasting arrangements, including alternating broadcasts of the semi-finals and final, will remain in force.[6]

Team Streams

Additionally, for 2014, truTV and TNT aired special "Teamcast" coverage of the Final Four alongside TBS's conventional coverage, which featured commentators and other guests representing the schools in each game.[19][20] While the consortium planned to tap local radio announcers from each team for the teamcasts, the majority refused due to commitments in calling the games for their local radio networks. However, Turner Sports' senior vice president of production, Craig Barry, did expect such difficulties, and planned accordingly with the possibility of using talent from outlets associated with the team, general region, or their conference (such as regional networks).[21][22] The Teamcast feeds returned for the 2015 tournament, now branded as Team Stream powered by Bleacher Report.[23][24] For 2016, they were also used on the National Championship game.[25]

As CBS prefers having a singular broadcast feed, the Team Stream feature will not be used during any year that CBS holds the rights for the Final Four.[26]

Other college basketball coverage from Turner Sports

Prior to 2011, Turner Sports' best known association with college basketball perhaps occurred on December 11, 1982, when TBS[27] (with the aid of more than 100 independent network affiliates and stations[28]) broadcast a contest between Virginia and Georgetown[29][30][31] (led by Ralph Sampson and Patrick Ewing[32] respectively). The game in question (in which TBS paid approximately US$600,000[33] for the broadcasting rights) was called by Skip Caray[34] and Abe Lemons.

Beginning in 2012, TruTV also began to air the preseason Coaches vs. Cancer Classic as part of a separate deal between Turner Sports and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.[35]

International coverage

The same year that the CBS-Turner consortium took over, ESPN International acquired rights to the tournament for broadcast outside of the United States for networks such as TSN in Canada.[36][37]

While most of the coverage is simulcast from the main U.S. feeds, coverage of the Final Four and national championship game uses a separate world feed produced by the ESPN College Basketball staff; in 2013, the Final Four broadcasts on ESPN International were called by ESPN's lead commentators Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale (alternatively joined by Brad Nessler for the second semi-final game).[38]


CBS and Turner pool their resources for the tournament. While CBS's Jim Nantz remains the lead voice for the tournament, CBS's analysts are joined by analysts from NBA TV and TNT. Turner also provides play-by-play man Brian Anderson, who calls baseball for TBS and formerly did the same with lead NBA voice Marv Albert until he ended his association with CBS. (TNT's #2 NBA voice, Kevin Harlan, is already employed by CBS and thus does not require special arrangement to appear.)

Coverage originates from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City, and the Turner Sports studio in Atlanta, where many of the studio shows for the latter division's coverage of the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball emanate from.[39]

CBS's college basketball studio host Greg Gumbel and Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson, Jr. split hosting duties in the New York studio while Turner Sports's Casey Stern hosts in the Atlanta studio. Johnson's colleagues on Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, join CBS analyst Clark Kellogg in the studio in New York City while Stern is joined by NBA TV’s Steve Smith, CBS Sports Network’s Wally Szczerbiak, and CBS's Seth Davis in Atlanta.

Theme music

As previously mentioned, all four networks use a variation of the CBS College Basketball Theme during the tournament. Although CBS uses this arrangement for the tournament, they still use the arrangement that has been in use since 2004 during its regular season coverage.

During all intros and outros into commercial breaks in the 2014 coverage, Spanish coverage Galavision used Fiesta by Chilean Singer Denise Rosenthal, all broadcasters used Shot At The Night by The Killers as the theme/bumper music.

During select intros and into commercial breaks in the 2016 coverage, all broadcasters used Turn Up by The Heavy as the bumper music.

For the 2017 tournament, all broadcasts used Something Just Like This by American EDM group The Chainsmokers and British group Coldplay, as its bumper music.


  1. 1 2 3 "CBS Sports, Turner Broadcasting, NCAA Reach 14-Year Agreement". (Press release). National Collegiate Athletic Association. April 21, 2010. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  2. Gorman, Bill (April 22, 2010). "NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament Expands To 68 Teams; CBS Adds Turner To Television Team". CBS (Press release). TV by the Numbers (Zap2It/Tribune Media). Archived from the original on May 1, 2010.
  3. Flint, Joe (April 23, 2010). "CBS cuts in Turner on NCAA basketball tournament". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  4. Fang, Ken (March 17, 2017). "Looking back at how the NCAA-CBS/Turner partnership began". Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  5. Surber, Don (March 29, 2010). "ESPN to snag the Final Four?". Daily Mail. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  6. 1 2 Bonesteel, Matt (April 12, 2016). "CBS and Turner Sports lock down NCAA tournament through 2032". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  7. Crupi, Anthony (May 7, 2013). "Fast Break: TBS to Air Final Four in 2014: College hoops title game shifts to cable in 3 years". Adweek. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  8. "NCAA tournament changing schedule to air more games in full". ESPN. February 10, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  9. "CBS Sports, Turner Sports Unveil TV Schedule For 2011 March Madness Tournament". TVNewser. Mediabistro, Inc. February 10, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
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  11. "CBS, Turner win TV rights to tourney". ESPN. Retrieved April 22, 2010.
  12. "Turner's Expanded TV Everywhere Presence Should Boost Delivery of NCAA March Madness Live". Multichannel News. March 16, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  13. "You'll Never Miss That Game Again". Multichannel News. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  14. Boren, Cindy (March 14, 2016). "Ratings for CBS's NCAA tournament selection show were almost as bad as show itself". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  15. Schilken, Chuck (March 14, 2016). "NCAA says it's investigating the bracket leak that saved us from the two-hour Selection Sunday show". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  16. "TBS to Televise 2018 NCAA March Madness Selection Show on Sunday, March 11, at 6 p.m. ET". National Collegiate Athletic Association. February 7, 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  17. Lucia, Joe (February 7, 2018). "TBS will air this year's NCAA Tournament Selection Show, which is expanding back to two hours". Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  18. Elliott, Matt (March 11, 2018). "Selection Sunday 2018: Watch the NCAA Selection Show live now". CNET. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  19. Ourand, John (November 18, 2013). "Choose your perspective". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  20. "March Madness: CBS To Move Up National Championship Tip Time". Multichannel News. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  21. Sandomir, Richard (March 29, 2014). "Local Voices Aren't So Eager to Go National". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  22. Norlander, Matt (February 4, 2014). "A conversation with vice president of the NCAA tournament, Dan Gavitt". CBS Sports. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  23. "The Final Four Teamcasts Will Return In 2015". Awful Announcing. February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  24. "TNT/truTV Final Four Teamcasts To Be Branded "Team Stream by Bleacher Report"". Awful Announcing. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  25. "CBS/Turner unveil 2016 NCAA Tournament announcers; Brian Anderson to call Elite Eight". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  26. "Media Circus: Breaking down CBS and Turner's March Madness broadcast package". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  27. 1982 83 #1 Virginia at #4 Georgetown 1 of 1 on YouTube
  28. Greg Stoda (December 10, 1982). "Battle of giants forms collation". Star-News. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  29. Fred Rothenberg (July 22, 1982). "Superstation Wtbs Fights Network Methods, Programs". Toledo Blade. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  30. Chris Richard (July 22, 1982). "Awesome Basketball Game Spotlights Sampson-Ewing Confrontation". The Cavalier Daily. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  31. 1982-83 UVA vs. Georgetown 12/11 on YouTube
  32. Peter Meade (December 8, 1982). "The Biggest Showdown?". The Times-News. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  33. Larry Siddens (September 16, 1982). "Court Ruling Is Made On Televised NCAA Athletics". Daily Times. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  34. "Hawks Relive Caray Of Announcing Duties". The Palm Beach Post. 4 February 1983. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  35. Ken Fang (September 14, 2011). "Turner Sports Snatches The Rights To Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Starting in 2012". Fang's Bites. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  36. Bruce Dowbiggin (February 24, 2011). "TSN catches March Madness". Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Archived from the original on March 3, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  37. chappelll (March 10, 2011). "ESPN Europe » ESPN America Tipping Off Exclusive Coverage of NCAA® March Madness®". ESPN MediaZone. Archived from the original on September 9, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
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  39. Turner Sports (January 18, 2011). "CBS, Turner combine talent rosters". Retrieved January 20, 2011.
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