CBS, Turner Unveil March Madness Schedule

After months of rumors and chatter, CBS and Turner have unveiled the television schedule for their sprawling coverage of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. As part of the landmark 14-year, $10.8 billion rights deal announced in April, all tournament games will be available live in their entirety across four national television networks — CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV — for the first time ever.

The new format features extended programming hours and staggered start times, allowing viewers to catch the dramatic conclusions of more early-round games.

“A big part of NCAA March Madness is the intense buzzer-beater action all around the country. With two national media partners, fans are able to choose complete coverage of any game and catch all of the action,” says Greg Shaheen, interim EVP of championships and alliances. “Next month, living rooms across the country become the control rooms as CBS, TNT, TBS. and truTV take the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to the next level, and our fans reap the benefits.”

CBS Sports and Turner Sports will present fully integrated game and studio productions across all four networks throughout the tournament, using universal graphics, music beds, unique camera angles, and an integrated talent lineup. The two sports divisions also will collaborate to provide seamless studio integration across the networks with pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows from studios in New York City and Atlanta. Studio shows will include The Road to the Final Four, NCAA Tip-Off, At the Half, and Inside March Madness.

The 2011 tournament tips off in primetime with the NCAA First Four on truTV on Tuesday March 15 and Wednesday March 16 and concludes with the Final Four and national championship game on CBS on Saturday April 2 and Sunday April 4, respectively.

CBS will air the Final Four and championship game for the 30th year as well as a total of 26 games throughout the tournament, including the second round, third round, Sweet 16, and Elite 8.

“The NCAA tournament television coverage has expanded and evolved with creativity and technology each year,” says Mike Aresco, EVP of programming for CBS Sports. “Now, as we collaborate on this schedule with our partners at Turner, two great media companies will further enhance the viewing experience as every game will be televised nationally, giving viewers greater choice.”

Turner will air 41 games across its three television networks: 16 on TBS (second round, third round, and Sweet 16), 12 on TNT (second round and third round), and 13 on truTV (all First Four games as well as second-round matchups). TruTV will also air the College All-Star Game on Friday April 1 as part of NCAA Final Four Friday.

“We are proud of the programming schedule we were able to jointly create with our colleagues at CBS, which provides fans with the unprecedented opportunity of watching every game live on national television,” says Christina Miller, SVP of Turner Sports strategy, marketing, and programming. “With extensive studio and game coverage across TBS, TNT, truTV, and CBS, there is more programming than ever. NCAA basketball fans will have the opportunity to see every game from start to finish.”

Turner Sports and CBS will wrap up their extensive live coverage from Houston, with the Final Four semifinals and championship game. A one-hour NCAA Tip-Off show on truTV at 3 p.m. ET begins Saturday’s Final Four coverage. CBS takes the reins at 4 p.m. with a two-hour Road to the Final Four, followed by the broadcast of the two national semifinal games beginning at 6 p.m. truTV wraps up the Final Four with Inside March Madness. CBS Sports will broadcast the national championship game on Monday April 4 at 9 p.m. truTV will air a one-hour NCAA Tip-Off leading up to CBS’s coverage.