Coach Pushes DBS Hoops Package

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DirecTV Inc. has recruited Rick Majerus, the high-profile coach of the University of Utah men's basketball team, to help sell its exclusive "Mega March Madness" subscription college-basketball package.

Majerus will tout the package during several media appearances that begin this week and run until the start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men's College Basketball Tournament on March 15, DirecTV said.

Majerus also will offer expert college-basketball analysis during a variety of regional and national media opportunities.

DirecTV vice president of marketing Jayne Hancock said Majerus' addition will highlight the value of the package for subscribers. "Rick Majerus is a recognized expert among this target audience, and he provides a perfect voice to communicate the unique benefits of the package," she said.

The direct-broadcast satellite provider's one-year agreement offers up to 37 out-of-market tournament games in association with CBS Sports, which holds the national broadcast rights. The suggested retail price for the package is $49; individual games sell for $19.95.

This year's package is expected to generate more than $11 million, according to Carmel Group estimates.

"Each year, we've exceeded our goals with the Mega March Madness package and, needless to say, were very happy to have the ability to offer it exclusively to our customers," DirecTV senior vice president of programming acquisitions Michael Thornton said. "We value the successful relationship we have with CBS and the NCAA and look forward to, once again, maintaining our standard of success with this year's package."

This is the third consecutive year DirecTV has held exclusive rights to the tournament package. Cable programmers such as In Demand have attempted to secure the games, but the NCAA has stated that cable distribution of the package could erode ratings for local CBS affiliates that air the tournament.

But the NCAA has said it will continue to review the situation-including any potential negative effects of DirecTV's growth on CBS' ratings-on a year-to-year basis.

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