CBS/Turner Extend NCAA Tournament Rights Through 2032

In a move that had been expected, the NCAA, CBS Sports and Turner Sports have announced an eight-year extension of their agreement that was going to expire in 2024. It keeps the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on CBS/Turner Sports through 2032 and keeps ESPN from getting its hands on the coveted property until at least then.

Joe Flint at the Wall Street Journal reports that CBS and the Time Warner-owned Turner Sports will pay an additional $8.8 billion for the eight-year extension. CBS/Turner had teamed up in 2010 to pony up $10.8 billion for a 14-year contract. Before CBS recruited Turner, it had been losing $100 million and had attempted to sell off the contract to ESPN which for some reason turned down the offer.

In any event, CBS and Turner will continue the agreement to alternate airing the Final Four and National Championship. CBS will air Final Four weekend in odds years while TBS will telecast it in even years.

And CBS/Turner will continue to stream the games online and have the ability to show the games on any platform that is currently developed or yet to be invented.

Along with the Olympics which are locked with NBC, the NCAA Tournament will be on CBS/Turner through 2032 which means both properties won’t be up for bid for a long time.

Here’s the official announcement:

NCAA March Madness logo
Turner, CBS and the NCAA reach long-term multimedia rights extension for NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship

New agreement extends television, digital and marketing rights through 2032

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA today announced an eight-year extension of its multimedia rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner, a division of Time Warner, for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The new contract extends the agreement through 2032, and ensures that one of the premier American sports events will be telecast by two of the world’s preeminent media companies for almost two more decades.

Through the terms of the new deal, Turner and CBS Sports will provide live coverage of all NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship games across any platform within their respective portfolios, including those to be created over the life of the agreement.

CBS Sports and Turner will continue to manage and collaborate on the NCAA’s corporate marketing program. Additionally, Turner will continue to manage March Madness Live and, along with major events surrounding NCAA championships, including the NCAA March Madness Fan Fest and Music Festival.

The extension covers an eight-year period for a total rights fee of $8.8 billion. As with the current and previous contract, more than 90 percent of the revenue generated from this extension will be used to benefit college athletes through programs, services or direct distribution to member conferences and schools. Further, the agreement ensures student-athletes across all three NCAA divisions will continue to be supported through a broad range of championship opportunities, access to funds for personal and educational needs, and through scholarships in Divisions I and II.

Under the original contract with Turner and CBS, every March Madness game was, for the first time, presented live in its entirety on national television and across digital platforms. The unprecedented partnership delivered seamless and unified programming, production, sales and marketing efforts, with both media organizations finding innovative approaches to investing in and growing the tournament. Since 2011, the new television format has been universally praised, with all games televised across four networks (TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV). The offerings on March Madness Live also continued to grow, and the Team Stream coverage introduced in 2014 allows basketball fans to watch the Final Four from three distinct vantage points.

The tournament has delivered significant audiences across all platforms throughout the six-year partnership between Turner and CBS. Television coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV has averaged more than 10.2 million total viewers in its respective game telecast windows over the last six years. NCAA March Madness Live has more than doubled the number of its live video streams and live hours of consumption since 2011.

“The extension of our current agreement will allow our more than 1,100 NCAA member colleges and universities to continue to support student-athletes on 19,000 teams across 24 sports,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert.

“We have a diverse membership with varying resource levels, and this extension will assist our campuses as they provide pathways to opportunity in higher education and beyond for nearly a half a million young men and women each year.”

“The NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship has been a cornerstone of CBS Sports for more than three decades, and we are very pleased to extend our successful partnership with the NCAA and Turner under the same terms that have worked so well for us these past several years,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “This spectacular tournament continues to solidify CBS’s position as a leading broadcaster of signature championship events, delivering an unparalleled opportunity to present one of our nation’s most popular sports franchises. Best of all, this historic extension positions CBS for a profitable future as we fully maximize the value and exposure of this great event across all assets of our corporation, both current platforms and those created during the lifetime of the deal.”

“Our partnership with CBS and the NCAA has exceeded all of our expectations, and this new long-term agreement continues to align Turner with one of the premier sports properties that generates unrivaled fan engagement for more than three weeks every year,” said Turner President David Levy. “Our expansive rights provide us with a tremendous opportunity to build and pursue new business extensions while developing an even deeper connection with our fans across existing platforms, as well as those to be created in the future. As we pursue all of these opportunities, Turner is uniquely positioned to monetize these broad rights across every aspect of our business.”

“CBS Sports and Turner are great partners for the NCAA and its membership” remarked Joseph R. Castiglione, director of athletics at the University of Oklahoma and current chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, “Having their long-term commitment ensures that March Madness will remain one of the preeminent television sports properties.”

Under the new agreement, all opening-, first- and second-round games will continue to be shown across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV with Turner and CBS splitting coverage of the regional semifinals and regional finals each year. Live coverage of the Final Four national semifinals and national championship will continue to alternate between CBS and Turner each year, with CBS broadcasting the games in 2017 and TBS televising them in 2018.

Turner and CBS Sports will maintain the existing sales partnership surrounding the NCAA Corporate Champion and Partner program. This program has grown from nine to 17 members since the previous deal was announced in 2010.

“This extension provides certainty to our diverse membership during a time when the television media landscape is experiencing rapid change,” said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances. “Providing a level of resource stability is something we felt important to accomplish for our membership.”

So this continues the trend of locking up sports properties long-term and it appears that the NCAA has sent a message to other sports organizations that now is the time to get the networks to pay up before the sports rights bubble bursts.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.