From the General Manager

New CBS contract means changes for March Madness

Posted March 11, 2011 8:19 p.m. EST
Updated March 16, 2011 5:28 p.m. EDT

It’s that time of year again, and March Madness is upon us.

There are big changes in how CBS Sports covers the tournament that will affect what games you will see on WRAL-TV. CBS and Turner Sports have joined together to televise every single game in its entirety. You can also watch every game online for FREE!

This is great news for viewers with access to CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV because you will be able to watch the game of your choice. We recognize that those of you who do not have access to cable or satellite may be disappointed in the games that CBS provides us and want you to know that with this new arrangement, WRAL-TV has no say in what games we air, including those of our local teams.

To help you enjoy the tournament to the fullest, we want to help you find the games you most want to watch. We’ve tried to anticipate the questions you might have and answer them below. Let us know if you have other questions and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Enjoy following your favorite team through the tournament. Game on!

Here is a look at how the 68-team bracket breaks down


Q: Why is this year different from previous years?

A: The NCAA negotiated a new 14-year contract with CBS and Turner Sports to make every tournament game available on TV. Over the course of the 67 games of the tournament, 26 will air on CBS (including the Final Four and Championship Game), 16 on TBS, 12 on TNT and 13 on truTV.

Q: What is different about the coverage in 2011?

A: CBS television stations across the country, including WRAL, will no longer have the choice of what games to air, even if the teams are of local interest. The national game selections will be determined by CBS and the three Turner networks. In any scheduled time period, each network will carry its assigned game and only that game. CBS will no longer be allowed to “flex” from game to game in search of a more competitive matchup, or to fill time between games.

Q: Will WRAL carry the games featuring local teams?

A: Not necessarily. WRAL has no choice in what game it airs. The station will carry whatever game CBS chooses to broadcast nationally.

Q: Can CBS pick any game it wants?

A: Actually the networks will be picking “locations” instead of “games” for each broadcast window.

The networks will be evaluating the interest in the combination of the two games being played in each regional site and will make their selection accordingly. As such, in each broadcast window, CBS will not be able to take one game from one site and the second game from another.

Q: If the CBS game is a blowout, will CBS move to another regional site and show the remainder of a more competitive game?

A: No. They must stay with the game that they were scheduled to broadcast.

Q: Will CBS switch to other games if their game ends early?

A: CBS will no longer be permitted to take viewers to other games in progress other than a brief “look-in.” (Each network is only allowed a total of three minutes of “look-ins” during the course of a given time block.) Upon the conclusion of any game, viewers will be taken to a studio location for updates, highlights and possibly brief “look-ins,” schedule permitting.

Q: Will any games be simulcast on more than one network?

A: No. Each of the games will be shown nationally and independently.

Q: What if viewers do not have access to TBS, TNT or truTV?

A: Unfortunately, fans that do not have cable or satellite, or whose channels do not include all three Turner networks, will not have access to games that air on those networks.

Any game that is not assigned to CBS will be shown on one of the Turner networks only.

However, as in years past, all games are available for free on NCAA “March Madness on Demand.”

Q: Why is this good for viewers?

A: Assuming a fan has access to all four networks, he or she can customize their viewing to their preferences and switch from game to game whenever they choose. The broadcast windows will be basically the same as in the past, but will be staggered in such a fashion that a fan can essentially watch wall-to-wall basketball all day and all night.

Q: Will the games be available in high definition?

A: All games on WRAL will be in high definition. The three Turner networks will have the games in high definition on their respective HD channels. Check with your cable or satellite provider to confirm whether you can receive the Turner channels in HD.

Q: Will WRAL still offer its multicast of the games on Time Warner Cable?

A: No. This new arrangement precludes the station from providing the multicast.

Q: Will some satellite subscribers still have the opportunity to subscribe to DirecTV's Mega March Madness?

A: No. It is no longer available.