The network, started by former Atlanta Braves owner and entrepreneur Ted Turner, has instantly gone from televising no college basketball games to getting one of the nation’s biggest and most beloved sporting events — including the championship game just six years away.
Turner Broadcasting and CBS outbid ESPN for the tournament rights, a rare loss for the network.
“We made an aggressive bid and believe our combination of TV distribution, digital capabilities, season-long coverage and year-round marketing would have served the interests of the NCAA and college fans very well,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
Some fans may find themselves scrambling to find their favorite teams, though.
McManus acknowledged late Thursday afternoon that if Kentucky, for instance, has a game scheduled on truTV, it won’t be shown on CBS — even in the team’s home city.
“Each game will be broadcast nationally in a window, and three of those games will be on Turner,” McManus said. “But I have a feeling it won’t take them long to figure it out. It’s not a new concept.”
How critical is the deal to the NCAA? More than 95 percent of the governing body’s total revenue comes from the broadcast rights to the men’s basketball tournament.
And it was clearly important to New York-based CBS. McManus said the “new strategic partnership” was a core asset and a profitable one, though he hinted that annual payments of $700 million over the last three years of the original deal were a load.
“We were prepared to do the last three years of the current deal, it was no secret that those three years would be very challenging,” he said. “But this deal was based on the NCAA coming to us saying that we would like a new deal in place.”
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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