March Madness 2022: CBS, Turner Partnership Focuses on Community in Men’s Basketball Tournament

In 11th straight production, the duo seeks to improve on 2021 ‘bubble’ competition

In 2010, CBS Sports and Turner Sports embarked on an unprecedented partnership to present the largest men’s college basketball competition in the country. Heading into the first weekend of all-day action, the broadcasters are embracing the communal aspect of the madness and building off last year’s pandemic-restricted production.

“There is nothing like this tournament,” says Lenny Daniels, president, Turner Sports. “The ability to bring these massive communities of fans together within a three-week span is unparalleled.”

The return of full-capacity crowds will be welcomed this month. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of last year’s tournament was played in Indiana before crowds at 25% of venue capacity. With the pandemic restrictions lessening, production crews are eager to bring back the intimate and exclusive shots the tournament is known for.

“We’re focused on providing best-in-class productions,” says Daniels. “The access that our viewers have come to expect throughout the years is something that we’ll continue.”

For example, real-time interviews with coaches on the court will be provided throughout the tournament, offering viewers additional insights into the action. With a packed tech arsenal and this higher level of access, Daniels believes, telecasts will look — and feel — different from last year’s.

“We learned how to get by and do things that we’ve needed to do to keep productions going,” he says. “We’ve found that producing with quality and doing it the right way still matters.”

This is CBS Sports’ 40th tournament, but it’s the 11th consecutive competition with Turner Sports. From the perspective of both broadcasters, showcasing the 67-game slate with technological innovation and precision is a result of their decades-long business relationship.

“There is no pride of ownership because it’s truly two production teams working as one,” says Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports. “We’ve been able to do this without any distractions or conflicts because, in the end, it’s all about the viewer.”

It has been 1,075 days since the latest sold-out National Championship game: the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers defeated No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders in front of 72,062 fans at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 8, 2019. As the tournament once again unfolds across the nation, the production will be a far cry from where this spectacle was two years ago.

“When we didn’t have this tournament in 2020, people realized how much it meant to them,” McManus observes. “It’s going to feel good to get back to some degree of normalcy.”

When the calendar flips to April and the festivities head to New Orleans for the championship bout, the game will signify not only the crowning of a champion but also the farewell of a sports-broadcasting icon. After an illustrious career with CBS \ spanning more than five decades, director Bob Fishman will retire at the conclusion of the tournament. The 2019 inductee into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame has directed some of sport’s most memorable game-winning shots and celebrations. Fishman’s, and the network’s, first NCAA Men’s Basketball title game was UNC vs. Georgetown in the Louisiana Superdome on March 29, 1982. In a full circle moment, his final title game will be in the same building nearly 40 years later to the day.

“When you hear the names of players that made big shots in the tournament,” says McManus, “you immediately think of those images that he directed. He has a history and legacy filled with great accomplishments.”

The second round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will begin on Saturday, March 20. The competition will conclude with the Championship Game on Monday, April 4 on TBS.

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