The NCAA tournament will remain on CBS and Turner for at least the next 16 years.
The broadcast partners on Tuesday announced an eight-year, $8.8 billion extension that will allow them to provide live coverage of NCAA tournament games on any platform they choose through 2032. That includes those platforms "to be created over the life of the agreement."
The rights fee is a significant increase over the original 14-year contract CBS, Turner and the NCAA agreed to back in 2010. Whereas CBS and Turner will pay an average of approximately $771 million every year to air the NCAA tournament from 2011-2024, that fee will rise to $1.1 billion per year from 2025-2032.
That increase is crucial to the NCAA, which secures more than 90 percent of its total revenue from the men's basketball tournament. NCAA president Mark Emmert said that money flows back to the association's 1,100 members schools to help them support other sports that do not produce revenue.
The stability this TV rights deal provides is welcome news for those who like the current format of the NCAA tournament. Emmert said on a conference call Tuesday that there has been "absolutely no discussion about expanding the field beyond 68."
"We're very pleased with the way the tournament is conducted right now," Emmert said."It works exceedingly well for the participants as well as the audience."
It appears CBS and Turner are equally pleased with their current arrangement of alternating broadcast rights to the Final Four and national championship game each year. Executives from both networks said they have no plans to change that format despite a ratings decline this year with the national semifinals and title game airing on TBS for the first time.
The one change that appears likely is an alteration to the selection show after CBS expanded it to two hours for the first time last month. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said that while formal discussions on the format will not take place until the summer, his network is well aware of the backlash from viewers unhappy that it took so much longer for each bracket to be revealed.
Said McManus, "I think it's safe to assume we'll be a bit more timely with the announcement of the brackets in the future."
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