Are you ready for March Madness? The annual college basketball championship tournament returns next week, and with a new look across new platforms.
For years, we relied on CBS to give us full days of basketball, trusting that they would break in and bring us the best action, especially the sometimes-spectacular ending to games. Most of the time it worked, though there were always times there was a particular game that we wanted to see that wasn't being carried in its entirety in the local market.
Then CBS launched March Madness Do Demand, where all the games could be seen live over the Internet. The problem with that, especially in the first couple of years, was that there seemed to be limited connections available, and you had to sign up -- and sign in -- well in advance to be able to check the action.
You'll still be able to watch online if you wish -- especially handy if you're stuck at the office -- but this year you'll also have many more options for catching the games on your television.
CBS has teamed up this season -- and for the next 14 seasons -- with Turner Sports, and three of their top stations -- TNT, TBS and truTV -- to broadcast every single game of the tournament, live and nationwide. The agreement merges talent from both networks into the broadcasts, meaning we'll see CBS standbys such as Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery, as well as TNT personalities like Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller.
The partnership begins with the "NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show" on CBS, Sunday, March 13 (6:00-7:00 PM, EDT).
Turner Sports’ Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith join CBS Sports’ Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony and Seth Davis to host the show live from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg will join via satellite from the site of the Big Ten Championship at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. In addition, Gene Smith, Chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, will be live from Indianapolis to discuss the bracket and the committee’s selection process. The selection show will also be streamed live on NCAA.com, CBSSports.com and SI.com.
If you're filling out a bracket this year, keep in mind that you really only have one full day -- Monday -- to do so. Thus, CBS and Turner have designated Monday, March 14th as National Bracket Day.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday, truTV will broadcast the first four games, which are essentially play-in games, but are being labeled the NCAA First Four by the networks. There will be two games each night, the first one at 6:30 p.m. and the second at 9 p.m. If you've got DirecTV, they've arranged for truTV to broadcast in HD for the tournament.
Then for the first round of the tournament on Thursday and Friday, there will be game coverage from noon to midnight across the four channels. CBS will broadcast from noon to 5 p.m., break for the evening news, and then resume coverage from 7 p.m. to midnight. TBS broadcast from 2 p.m. to midnight, TNT from 1:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and truTV from 12:30 p.m. to midnight, with a break from 5:30-7 p.m.
For the second round on Saturday and Sunday, CBS will do much of the heavy lifting, with a schedule of games from noon to midnight on Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. TBS and TNT will each show a pair of games in the evening, TBS at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and TNT at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. truTV will only have one game on the weekend, picking up where CBS leaves off at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Didya follow all of that? Good.
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