(from SportsBusiness Journal, November 18, 2013) For the first time ever, Turner Sports and CBS will produce three different telecasts for each of the two national semifinal games of the NCAA Final Four in April. This unprecedented move will nationally telecast the traditional showing on TBS, while TNT and truTV will carry the same games at the same time with announcers and camera angles customized to each specific team. Pregame and postgame coverage will remain consistent on all three channels, but TNT and truTV will produce different halftime shows that will be focused on the different teams.
“This concept is born out of the popularity and incredible passion fans have for their college basketball teams and schools, and with this innovative approach we are tapping into their enthusiasm with three distinct telecasts,” said Lenny Daniels, Turner’s Executive Vice President and COO. With this new strategy of surrounding the event by broadcasting the same game across three fully distributed cable channels, Turner is certain to generate buzz around the games which almost certainly will attract aggregate viewing numbers that would be higher than if only one network carried the event. “This is really about giving fans alternate viewing options,” Daniels said. “Ratings are always a consideration, but we’re not worried about them. We’re looking for innovative, forward-thinking ways to present these games.”
On the advertisement sales side, Turner and CBS will likely maintain their strategy of doing one national sale that will see the same ad run at the same time in all three promotions. That approach has seemingly worked for the networks since they started to share the tournament in 2011. CBS will carry the championship game exclusively on April 7, meaning school-specific telecasts will not be used during the final.
While talks have begun, Daniels stated the companies have not decided who to pursue for the TNT and truTV telecasts, but they want to target people who know those teams best. “We are planning to go after the person who best fits what that’s about — bringing passion to these telecasts,” he said. “People who know the most about certain schools are the people who live it and breathe it every day.”