For the first time since handing the NCAA a bucket of money to air NCAA Tournament games nearly a decade ago, Turner Sports will be airing the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. On Wednesday, Turner announced the Selection Show’s move to TBS for 2018. TBS will also air the Final Four and National Championship this year, with CBS taking back the three games and the Selection Show next year. The Selection Show had aired on CBS since 1982.
Sports Business Journal also reports that the show this year will be back to two hours, a format that came under a hell of a lot of scrutiny in 2016. The NCAA cut the show to 90 minutes in 2017 after that criticism, but ratings still dropped just like they did in 2016. The Selection Show won’t have the luxury of a strong lead-in this year, either — SBJ reports that TBS plans on airing reruns of The Big Bang Theory prior to the Selection Show, a drastic shift from CBS, which typically led in to the Selection Show with the Big Ten Championship game. That won’t be a possibility this year, given that the Big Ten title game airs a week earlier.
Turner and CBS will also blend their hosts and analysts this year for the Selection Show as they have in prior years. Ernie Johnson and Greg Gumbel will share the host role, while Clark Kellogg, Seth Davis, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith will all take turns as analysts.
The main criticism for the two hour show in 2016 related to how long it took for the bracket to be revealed. SBJ’s report says that Turner claims “the bracket reveal would be in the front portion of the two-hour show this year,” which sounds fantastic until you realize that still gives TBS a full hour to reveal the full bracket. The 2016 bracket took 1:17 to completely reveal, and by that time, the full bracket was leaked online before CBS had brought us all 68 teams in the tournament.
Turner also noted in their press release that CBS would be doing their “bracket preview” show again this Sunday, February 11th, prior to the Michigan-Wisconsin game. The preview show reveals the current top 16 seeds, four in each region, which will inevitably change in the month before the regular season ends.