NCAA Signs TV Deal Worth $10.8 Billion

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The NCAA has signed a new 14-year TV deal for the men's basketball tournament worth $10.8 billion dollars. CBS and Turner broadcasting will split the rights to broadcast tournament games. Plus, the playoff field has been recommended to expand to 68 teams from 65.


Many college basketball fans were worried that the thrill of March Madness would be diminished if the men's tournament was expanded to 96 teams. They can now breathe easier. Yesterday, the NCAA announced plans for a much smaller expansion so they're expanding, just not as much, along with a new whopping broadcast deal worth nearly $11 billion.

NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN: From 65 teams to 68. That's the recommendation of the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee, which the association's board of directors will discuss and most likely approve next Thursday. Put to a fan and media vote, 68 would pass today.

This year's men's tournament was one of the most exciting ever, and the success fueled anger among those who worried that ballooning the tournament by another 31 teams would dilute the product.

On a conference call yesterday announcing the plan, NCAA officials didn't say whether the criticism had an effect on limiting expansion. They did say 68 is the number for now. Although there is, quote, flexibility in the new TV deal to accommodate even more expansion, end quote. That new deal is worth $10.8 billion. And for the first time since CBS started broadcasting the men's tournament in 1982, it brings a cable TV partner into the mix.

CBS is joining with Turner Broadcasting in a 14-year contract that will for the first time televise every game live nationwide on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. CBS still will televise the crown jewel Final Four and championship games through 2015, and then alternate with TBS.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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