A staple of the men’s Final Four since 2014, CBS will not be utilizing the Team Streams for this year’s Final Four and National Championship Game. Introduced by Turner Sports, the homer calls which allowed fans to hear commentators and analysts associated with their favorite schools, viewers have come to expect them. First airing on the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Final Fours and last year’s National Championship Game, they have led to some initial confusion and some interesting calls.
The Team Stream on TNT and truTV have allowed fans to see alternate feeds of the events with the main call on TBS. But you won’t have that option as the Final Four and National Championship Game return to broadcast TV.
This year, CBS won’t be utilizing the Team Streams. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus told Sports Illustrated, “We have a slightly different model than Turner does and exclusivity for our stations is important to us,” said McManus. “Our goal is aggregate the largest audience so it’s important to us for the semifinals and final game that we do that on CBS.”
It means that CBS doesn’t want its ratings to be watered down by the Team Streams and will thus keep both the Final Four and National Championship Game on one network this year, CBS.
But before you start firing off an angry tweet, you can rest assured that it will be back next year. Turner Sports President David Levy said, “We think it is innovative and it’s all about innovation and the fan first.” Levy said. “We got great perspective back from consumers who want to see a different perspective. I think it is additive to the overall experience of March Madness.”
So you’ll see it again next year. Just remember when CBS airs the Final Four and National Championship games in odd years, the Team Stream won’t be utilized. They will be on when Turner airs the Final Four and National Championship Game in even years through 2032 when the NCAA’s contract with CBS and Turner Sports expires.