The NCAA is considering amending its men’s basketball tournament TV contract with CBS and Turner to give the Final Four and National Championship some consistency. This year, TBS aired both the Final Four and the final while next year, CBS will broadcast both events. Under the current contract, the two networks will alternate Final Four weekend every year through 2024.
However, Sports Business Journal reports that the NCAA is considering an idea to place the Final Four on TBS and the National Championship on CBS permanently. If a change were to be made, it would require an amendment to the current contract, however, the caveat is that it won’t occur right away.
SBJ says CBS seems to be more open to the idea than Turner. And with Turner having aired its first national final of any kind in its history, it doesn’t want to lose the National Championship Game. But if this does come to fruition, it would ensure that both CBS and TBS would have glamour games each year.
Also, the NCAA will look at the future of the Team Stream concept, providing homer calls to the schools involved, and whether CBS will use it next year when it airs both the Final Four and the National Championship.
All this discussion comes as the viewership for this year’s Final Four and National Championship fell to historically-low levels. Factors for the lower numbers included the move from broadcast to cable, but also blowouts in the National Semifinal games reducing interest in the final.
SBJ reports that Turner pays 70% of the 14-year, $10.8 billion contract so it has a vested interest to any changes to the NCAA Tournament contract.
In addition, the relationship between the NCAA and CBS/Turner may be extended beyond 2024. Deadspin reports that the parties have agreed on an eight-year extension that would go through 2032. No confirmation from the NCAA, CBS or Turner as of yet.
Having a consistent home for the Final Four and the National Championship Game would end any viewer confusion especially over having TBS as the home of the men’s basketball final and it would be better for fans who grew accustomed to seeing CBS broadcast the game from 1982 through 2015.