CBS, Turner Sports To Share Final Four Weekend in 2014, 2015

After rumors swirled for the past month or so, it became official today as Turner Sports exercised the option in their rights agreement with CBS that will bring the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four to TBS beginning next season.

Per today’s announcement, national semifinal games will air on TBS in 2014 and 2015 with the National Championship Game remaining on network television on CBS. Then, in 2016, the entire Final Four weekend (semifinals and finals included) move to TBS and the weekend alternates between CBS and TBS for the remainder of the deal, which currently runs through 2024.

“This allows both Turner and CBS to have a major presence during the Final Four weekend, both in ’14 and ’15,” says CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “I think it’s better for both of our companies that we have a presence. It’s a win-win for both of us.”

The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 will also be split between CBS and TBS starting next season. Earlier round coverage of the tournament will continue to be televised across four national television networks – CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV with the First Four airing exclusively on truTV.

McManus added that this programming change shouldn’t impact production facility and equipment agreements that are currently in place. F&F Productions has served as the mobile production facility provider for some time.

“As far as the production, we haven’t talked about the specifics, but in respect to the equipment, I don’t think the equipment levels will be changing significantly and whatever deals we have in place for the cameras and the technical facilities, I don’t see this announcement effecting those arrangements,” says McManus.

In 2010, Turner Sports and CBS Sports entered into a 14-year exclusive media rights partnership with the NCAA to present the NCAA Tournament from 2011-2024. As part of that agreement, CBS Sports and Turner Sports originally agreed to alternate coverage of the Final Four national semi-final games and National Championship game between TBS and CBS. That rotation begins on TBS with the network televising the Final Four and National Championship in 2016 with CBS broadcasting the games in 2017.

Turner Sports and CBS Sports recently concluded their third year of exclusive coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The 2013 tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV was the most-watched NCAA Tournament in 19 years, averaging 10.7 million total viewers, up 11% from last year’s 9.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

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