Friday, March 11, 2011

A note from CBS about coverage changes for the NCAA tournament

It’s time for March Madness, and we wanted you to be aware of big changes in how CBS Sports covers the tournament.

Briefly, CBS and Turner Sports have joined together to televise every single game in its entirety. This is good news for viewers with access to CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV because they will be able to watch the game of their choice. However, since many viewers do not have access to cable or satellite, some may be disappointed in the games that CBS provides WRAL-TV under this new arrangement, including the possibility that WRAL may not be broadcasting games involving our local teams.

We’ve tried to anticipate the questions fans might have and have attached a comprehensive set of FAQs. If appropriate, we would appreciate you helping us communicate these changes to local viewers.


Why Is This Year Different Than Prior Years?

A: The NCAA negotiated a new 14-year contract with CBS and Turner Sports to make every tournament game available on TV. Over the course of the 67 games of the tournament, 26 will air on CBS (including the Final Four and Championship Game), 16 on TBS, 12 on TNT and 13 on truTV.

What Is Different About the Coverage?

A: CBS television stations across the country, including WRAL-TV, will no longer have the choice of what games to air, even if the teams are of local interest. The national game selections will be determined by CBS and the three Turner networks. In any scheduled time period, each network will carry its assigned game and only that game. CBS will no longer be allowed to “flex” from game to game in search of a more competitive match up, or to fill time between games.

Will WRAL Carry the Games of Local Interest?

A: Not necessarily. WRAL-TV has no choice in what game it airs. The station will carry whatever game CBS chooses to broadcast nationally.

Can CBS Pick Any Game It Wants?

A: Actually the networks will be picking “locations” instead of “games” for each broadcast window. The networks will be evaluating the interest in the combination of the two games being played in each regional site and will make their selection accordingly. As such in each broadcast window, CBS will not be able to take one game from one site and the second game from another.

When Will the Broadcast Schedule Be Determined and Announced?

A: Once the NCAA brackets are announced on Sunday, March 13 at 6PM (ET), CBS Sports and Turner Sports will work together to set the broadcast schedules for the first and second round games for each of the four networks. The schedule for the “First Four” games on Tuesday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 16, and the second-round games on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18 will be announced within 24 hours after the “Selection Show” Sunday night and will be posted and continually updated on

If the CBS Game Is a “Blow Out,” Will CBS Move to Another Regional Site and Show the Remainder of a More Competitive Game?”

A: No. They must stay with the game that they were scheduled to broadcast.

Will CBS Switch to Other Games if Their Game Ends Early?

A: CBS will no longer be permitted to take viewers to other games in progress other than a brief “look-in.” (Each network is only allowed a total of up to three minutes of “look-ins” during each half of each game.) Upon the conclusion of any game, viewers will be taken to a studio location for updates, highlights and possibly brief “look-ins,” schedule permitting.

Will Any Games Be Simulcast on More Than One Network?

A: No. Each of the games will be shown nationally and independently.

What If Viewers Do Not Have Access to TBS, TNT or truTV?

A: Unfortunately, fans that do not have cable or satellite, or whose channels do not include all three Turner networks, will not have access to a portion of the games on television. Any game that is not assigned to CBS will be shown on one of the Turner networks only. However, as in years past, all games are available for free on NCAA “March Madness on Demand.” Go to and look for the link to “March Madness On Demand” or paste the following in your browser--

Why Is This Good for Viewers?

A: Presuming a fan has access to all four networks, he or she can customize their viewing to their preferences and switch from game to game whenever they choose. The broadcast windows will be basically the same as in the past, but will be staggered in such a fashion that a fan can essentially watch wall-to-wall basketball all day and all night.

Will the games be available in high definition?

A: All games on WRAL-TV will be broadcast in high definition. The three Turner networks will have the games in high definition on their respective HD channels. Check with your cable or satellite provider to confirm whether you can receive the Turner channels in HD.

Will WRAL-TV still offer its multicast of the games on Time Warner Cable?

A: No. This new arrangement precludes the Station from providing the multicast.

Will some satellite subscribers still have the opportunity to subscribe to DirecTV's Mega March Madness?

A: No. It is no longer available.

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