*CBS* Sports will keep the NCAA mens’ basketball championships in its lineup with a deal that marks the end of an era on the air and online. CBS (NYSE: CBS) and new partner Turner Broadcasting will pay the NCAA $10.8 billion over the course of a 14-year deal that starts in 2011 and runs through 2028. When that deal kicks in, March Madness will be split across CBS and Turner nets TBS, TNT and truTV — and Turner will have control over March Madness on Demand. MMOD will continue to launch from NCAA.com and CBSSports.com but Turner will be running the digital show. (Full details are in the release below.)
The deal allows CBS to maintain bragging rights for March Madness while providing an escape hatch from the current contract with its backloaded escalating costs. For the fan, it may be harder to find the game you want in terms of knowing which network it will be on and the majority of games will be on cable, but every game will televised nationally in its entirety. The partners will split the regional finals with the Final Four and the championship game alternating every year between CBS and TBS (to clarify, that starts in 2016).
Digitally, the overview version is that Turner will control all digital rights, development and operation. NCAA.com and CBSSports.com will continue to launch the player but Turner has the rights for any Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) digital property. (Not specified, the rights for CBS to continue using it across its other sites.) The NCAA gets “enhanced rights” to deliver content for multiple Turner and Time Warner platforms.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes brought up the digital aspect in his staff memo: “It locks in some of the most valuable original, real-time programming for a 14-year period, and we