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Posted at 11:05 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

NCAA tournament 2011: What to expect as a television viewer

By Eric Prisbell

Having covered the entire NCAA tournament for more than a decade, I haven't watched much of CBS's coverage because I'm either sitting courtside at a game, interviewing players during an off-day media session or boarding an airplane during games. But every now and then I get a sense of what everyday college basketball fans encounter when trying to follow the event on television each March. And it can be frustrating. I still remember last March, when I was in Spokane, Wash., for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Northern Iowa was in the final moments of a colossal upset over Kansas. Media members were scrambling around the arena to find a television set, large or small, that would show the game's conclusion. And the big screen in the media work room kept taking us back to a different game (I believe it was the Washington-New Mexico game). By the end of the Northern Iowa game, I was gasping for air, having run back and forth between TVs.

Well, the good thing about this expanded field is that it looks like those days are over. Four networks --- CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV -- will televise first- and second-round games, so you won't miss a game or outcome you want to see. I know a few reporters who choose to sit out the first two rounds -- rather get stuck at a site with dog games -- so they can take in the entire tournament on television from a big-picture perspective. Given the way the broadcast format is set up now, that's a tempting option. Here is more on what to expect this March from a TV standpoint from Seth Davis's notebook:

"Finally, a programming note. I know there was a lot of hoopla last spring when the NCAA announced that it had agreed to a 14-year contract with CBS and Turner to broadcast the NCAA tournament, but there is still a lot of confusion about how it will all work. That includes from those of us who work for CBS and Turner. I spent the day at the Turner campus in Atlanta last Thursday, and the bottom line is that this partnership is going to be a huge win for the viewers. (Editor's note: Turner Sports is in partnership with SI.com and runs the site's business operations.)

The first four games of the newly-expanded tournament are going to be shown on TruTV in Tuesday and Wednesday doubleheaders. During the first and second rounds, the games will be aired across four networks: CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV. There will be two studios servicing those four networks. The Atlanta studio will include me, Steve Smith and host Matt Winer. In the New York studio, Ernie Johnson will rotate with Greg Gumbel as host, and they'll be joined by analysts Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. Reggie Miller and I will also be in the New York studio for the second week, when the games will be shown on CBS and TBS during the Sweet 16. The regional finals, Final Four and national championship game will air on CBS.

All of this means that you will never again be taken away from a game you want to watch. You will also get a lot more studio programming, with long halftimes and bridge shows between games. During that first week we will also produce a 90-minute pregame show each day on TruTV, and the games will be followed by an hourlong postgame show. So you can sit on your couch from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day and not miss a thing. I suggest you call your boss now and say you're gonna be home with the flu that week."

By Eric Prisbell  | February 9, 2011; 11:05 AM ET
 
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Comments

Now if only TruTV was broadcast in HD.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 9, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, I had this all worked out previously; a long-time system was in place.
I need to start stockpiling leave, pronto.

Posted by: WaPoPimp | February 10, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

if i understand this correctly...all games will be available all the time on these 4 channels so i wont need to buy the Mega March Madness package from DirecTv to have access to all the games...is that right?

Posted by: deadskin | February 10, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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