CBS Moves Opening Tournament Games To ESPN; Rest Of Schedule Up In Air
Posted March 20, 2003 2:42 a.m. EST
NEW YORK — CBS moved its coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to cable channel ESPN on Thursday because of news coverage of the war in Iraq.
At noon EST, when CBS Sports' pre-game show was scheduled to start, the network told viewers looking for NCAA action to tune instead to ESPN.
The day's first game, between Marquette and Holy Cross in the Midwest Regional at Indianapolis, tipped off at 12:20 p.m. EST on ESPN - with CBS announcers and production.
"Kind of a strange way to start the tournament, isn't it?" CBS studio analyst Clark Kellogg said.
It wasn't immediately known how many games would be shifted to the cable channel or its partner, ESPN2.
"We're prepared to accommodate every window today and tomorrow, if needed," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. "They've sent the first window to us so far.
"Beyond that I don't know. It's a fluid situation."
ESPN is in about 20 million fewer households than CBS is. ESPN2 reaches about 22 million fewer.
If CBS opted to switch games later Thursday or Friday night, they would be shown on ESPN2.
ESPN's previous schedule included NHL coverage Thursday night and NBA coverage Friday night.
"We'll be updating our viewers frequently," CBS Sports vice president LeslieAnne Wade said . "We're working closely with the news division."