CBS, Turner Add Second Slash Camera at All NCAA Tournament Venues
While watching a NCAA Tournament First Round game two years ago, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus knew the new partnership between his company and Turner Sports would work.
Coming back from commercial break, CBS lead play-by-play man and oozer-of-class Jim Nantz read a quick promo for truTV’s newest show: Hardcore Pawn.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jim say three syllables any slower,” laughed McManus at a March Madness Media Day in New York this week.
Now in its third year, the NCAA Tournament partnership between CBS and Turner is unique in television: one network will actually encourage viewers to switch over to a better game on another network, even if that means sending them from CBS to reality-show–based fringe network truTV.
“When we made this deal, a lot of people in this room thought that was a long time,” said Turner Sports President of Sports David Levy of the 14-year agreement signed in April 2010. “You take a look now at what’s happening with sports rights in this business, and people are signing 10- to 20-year deals now.”
Camera Position Shuffle
Putting the control into the viewer’s hand and allowing him/her to choose which game to watch has proved a tremendous success, and now CBS and Turner are looking at ways to further bolster the on-air television product.
According to Harold Bryant, executive producer/VP, production, CBS Sports, a second slash camera will be added to each NCAA Tournament site, including all eight Second and Third Round sites.
“You can get that in-the-paint look,” he said, “and we just decided that we needed it on both sides now.”
Bryant added that there will be a shuffling of some camera positions at certain arenas in the early rounds as well. “Every year, we resurvey every venue and just try to take a hardcore look at the camera positions and make sure we have the best angles. There are a few venues where we adjusted the camera positions.”
4K on the Horizon?
According to sources at CBS, the network will be running 4K demos during the network’s coverage of the Final Four in Atlanta early next month.
According to Bryant, it’s purely a test, and it’s highly unlikely any shots captured in 4K will be transmitted to air.
“At this point,” he said, “it’s more for the engineers to use and learn from, to see how [4K technology] reacts to pans and zooms and different light levels.”
As for 4K as a part of future NCAA Tournament coverage, it certainly seems likely.
“I was at CES, and I saw 4K,” said Levy. “It’s about equipment, it’s about trucks, it’s about seat kills; there’s a lot of things that go with it. But I did see the technology, and it is absolutely fantastic. The cameras have got to get up to speed, along with the trucks, but [the NCAA Tournament] will always take high priority as to how we produce it.”
Adds McManus, “4K is coming, and it’s going to be a part of the NCAA Tournament at some point. It’s always in our thinking.”
For the third consecutive year, Turner Sports and CBS Sports will use two studios, one in New York and one in Atlanta.
Studio coverage again will be anchored by Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson with Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony, and Kenny Smith providing analysis throughout the tournament from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York.
Matt Winer will anchor coverage from Turner Studios in Atlanta, joined by Seth Davis and Steve Smith. In addition, Lesley Visser will serve as a contributor.
During the Regional Semifinals and Finals, Doug Gottlieb will join the New York studio team. Gumbel will remain in New York alongside Barkley, Anthony, Gottlieb, and Kenny Smith, and Johnson will shift to the Atlanta studio to join Davis and Steve Smith.
Studio coverage for the First Four will originate from Atlanta and feature Johnson, Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Steve Smith on Tuesday with Winer, Davis, and Steve Smith providing analysis on Wednesday.
To cover the tournament’s 67 games across four national networks — TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV, a total of 24 announcers will be shipped across the country.
The following announce teams are lined up for next week’s Regional coverage:
Play-By-Play / Analyst / Reporter
Jim Nantz / Clark Kellogg / Tracy Wolfson*
Marv Albert / Steve Kerr / Craig Sager*
Verne Lundquist / Bill Raftery / Rachel Nichols*
Kevin Harlan / Reggie Miller / Len Elmore / Lewis Johnson*
Ian Eagle / Jim Spanarkel / Allie LaForce
Brian Anderson / Dan Bonner / Marty Snider
Tim Brando / Mike Gminski / Otis Livingston
Spero Dedes / Doug Gottlieb / Jaime Maggio
*Regional Announce Teams
The top team of Nantz, Kelloff, and Wolfson will call the First Four on truTV beginning Tuesday night. The same trio will also call the Final Four in Atlanta.
The road to the Final Four begins with the unveiling of the brackets on CBS on Sunday, (6-7 p.m. ET), during the NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show.
Gumbel, Anthony, Gottlieb, and Davis will host live from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York. Nantz, Kellogg, and Kerr will join Gumbel, Anthony, Gottlieb, and Davis via satellite from Chicago’s United Center, site of the Big Ten Championship.
In addition, Mike Bobinski, chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, will join the show live from Indianapolis to provide an in-depth look into the selection process.
Immediately following the Selection Show at 7 p.m., the Infiniti Selection Sunday on truTV will provide in-depth analysis of the entire tournament field from Turner Studios in Atlanta. Ernie Johnson will host the one-hour special, joined by Barkley, Kenny Smith, and former Kentucky Wildcat Rex Chapman.
Also, Winer will conduct interviews with selected members of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee in Indianapolis to discuss the bracket and provide details regarding the group’s deliberations throughout the weekend. Anthony, Gottlieb, and Davis will also join the show live via satellite from New York.