Next Sunday, the field of 68 teams for the 2019 NCAA Tournament will be revealed, and if history is any indication, people will be pissed off about *something* on the show. But unlike last year, they won’t be pissed off at the ridiculous reveal of all 68 teams in alphabetical order before the reveal of the full bracket.
According to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, that format has thankfully been scrapped for 2019.
Some (very good) sports media news:
CBS will be changing the NCAA Selection Show from last year's broadcast on TBS. No rolling out all the teams in alphabetical order this year. They will return to unveiling the teams in brackets when you first see them on the screen.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) March 10, 2019
Last year’s Selection Show was a disaster. The hosts revealed all 68 teams, first the automatic qualifiers and then the at large teams, in alphabetical order before slowly revealing the full bracket, a process that took a good half hour or so. The 2018 Selection Show also saw viewership take a hit (again), and we got to see Ernie Johnson eat pizza (for whatever reason) in the middle of the damn show. Naturally, Johnson defended the show after the fact, and CBS and Turner executives both attempted to rationalize the changes in the week before the show aired. It’s also worth noting that the Selection Show in 2018 aired on TBS for the first time, and was two hours long (a decision that seemed ridiculous then, and seemed ridiculous now), up from 90 minutes in 2017.
The issues with the Selection Show really started in 2016. That was the first year of the new two-hour format, and it was roundly pummeled on all corners of the internet, eventually hitting a then 20-year low in viewership. The NCAA then vowed to fix the Selection Show, which they’re apparently still working on.
CBS has not officially announced the in-studio talent that will be featured on the Selection Show (but you can probably make some educated guesses based on their previous coverage), and also hasn’t publicly stated how long the show will be or what the format will be. But really, this isn’t complicated. Revealing the full bracket should only take a max of 15 minutes, which is probably still too much time. CBS doesn’t need to slowly reveal all four regions, pausing in between each bracket for analysis, interviews, or (god forbid) commercial breaks. All of that will be just as viable in the second half (or even second quarter, if it’s a two hour show) of the broadcast. Show us the damn brackets, don’t tease us, and don’t dwell on the brackets until we’ve seen all 68 teams, where they’re playing, who they’re playing, and what their seeds are.
This really isn’t rocket science, and it’s not as if CBS, Turner, and the NCAA can point to “soaring ratings” or “incredibly positive feedback” as reasons to continue with the bone-headed Selection Show formats we’ve seen over the past few years. When you’re just showing brackets, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel, yet that’s what the networks have been trying to do every year. It’s too damn much, and hopefully, sanity prevails next Sunday.