NCAA on verge of 68-team men's tournament - ESPN:

Next year, everything through the second round will be shown nationally on the four networks. CBS and Turner, an entity of Time Warner Inc., will split coverage of the regional semifinal games, while CBS will retain coverage of the regional finals, the Final Four and the championship game through 2015.

Beginning in 2016, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner; the Final Four and the championship game will alternate every year between CBS and TBS. Under the agreement, the NCAA and will again provide live streaming video of games, although Turner secured rights for any video player it develops.
Some fans may find themselves scrambling to find their favorite teams, though.

McManus acknowledged late Thursday afternoon that if Kentucky, for instance, has a game scheduled on truTV, it won't be shown on CBS -- even in the team's home city.

In a strange mis-mash of networks, the NCAA basketball tournament has been taken off of the airwaves and placed into the hands of basic cable. I've often wondered how long before the sort of setup that the NBA playoffs is using, where only a few games each week are on broadcast television with others split among a number of cable networks, would infect other sports. Right now, only two or three games a week from the NFL are restricted to cable with the great majority broadcast via Over The Air (OTA) television, and the NCAA tournament is only broadcast OTA, with games deemed to have the most local interest broadcast in its respective viewing areas. The NFL and NCAA represent near best cases, but it's a case that's soon to be in the past for March Madness.

Now, starting in 2016, those only with OTA will miss the Final Four and championship game every other year, and even before then will only have about a 1 in 4 chance of seeing the game they want to watch in earlier rounds.

My concern? To some degree, this is simply a result of the market revealing the decreasing power of broadcast television (as well as the filling of broadcast TV's void with the Internet, which it appears will carry every NCAA tournament game), but it's also a further indictment of college sports. The more that college sports trade accessibility -- for students, for local fans and alums -- for money, the less we can argue that those sports are about student athletes, student bodies, and the taxpayers supporting those institutions of higher learning whether they want to or not. Stock up: Sports bars.

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