Final Four Games to Air on TBS

Tweaks Option in Agreement With Turner, Both Networks Will Split Coverage Next Two Years 5/07/2013 6:36 AM Eastern

As expected, the Final Four games will air on TBS beginning next year.

CBS and Turner officially exercised an option in their 2010 agreement to broadcast the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, which would allow TBS to air Final Four games two years earlier than planned.

Over the next two years, CBS and TBS will share coverage of the Final Four, with TBS airing both national semifinal games and CBS carrying the national championship game.

As part of the original agreement signed in 2010 between CBS and Turner, TBS was to begin alternating with CBS on Final Four coverage beginning in 2016. However, an option existed to accelerate that plan to 2014. TBS and CBS will still begin their plan of alternating full coverage of the Final Four in 2016, which will run throughout the remainder of the deal through 2024.

"This option was always part of the original deal," said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, on a conference call with reporters. Levy said the positive fan reaction the past three years drove them to exercise this option.

"We wanted to come up with a scenario that was better for both CBS and Turner," explained CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, on why the two networks decided to share coverage the next two years instead. "We both agreed that it was important that CBS remain a presence Final Four weekend and that Turner had the ability to accelerate its presence." 

TBS will also split coverage of the four regional final games the weekend before, giving the network tournament coverage of every round until the national championship game. Early round action will continue to air across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

The 2013 NCAA Tournament averaged 10.7 million total viewers, the highest average for the tournament in 19 years.

McManus added that the new programming plan "doesn't change the financial structure" for either company. "I think it's a further evolution of the deal that will continue to be changed and modified as we go on."

Levy added that the revised setup allows for a transition period, where viewers could get used to seeing Final Four games on cable. 

"It gave [us] a nice opportunity to have a transition into the alternating years in 2016 and 2017," he said Levy, adding that it won't be that hard for viewers to adjust, citing that major sporting events such as the BCS bowl games and Monday Night Football already air on cable.

"I think people very quickly got used to the new programming paradigm that we established three years ago," added McManus.

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