Beginning in 2014, coverage of the Final Four will be split between CBS and TBS, Turner Sports announced in a press release on Tuesday.
TBS will cover the two national semifinal games in 2014 and 2015, while CBS will cover Monday's national championship game. It will be the first time a network other than CBS has broadcast a Final Four game since the network gained the rights to the event in 1982.
An even more dramatic shift will take place in 2016 when TBS will cover both the semifinal and championship games. TBS and CBS will then rotate coverage of the title game in every year between 2016 and when Turner Sports' current contract with the NCAA runs out in 2024.
Also, beginning in 2014 through 2024, coverage of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games will be split by TBS and CBS.
"From the beginning, our partnership with Turner Sports has exceeded every one of our expectations," said Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports. "Today's news represents another win-win arrangement that continues to help us extend the reach of this marquee property by combining the resources of our two organizations. As we have done since 1982, CBS is pleased to showcase the National Championship game in 2014 and 2015."
"Since the inception of our partnership, I don't think we could have envisioned such a seamless collaboration between our two companies both in front of and behind the cameras," added David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. "Coming off another incredible year of strong ratings and exciting games, the popularity of the NCAA Tournament and Final Four continues to resonate with fans across the country. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to televise the Final Four national semifinal games and two of the Elite Eight games on TBS beginning next year, and for the network to televise its first National Championship game in 2016."
The timing of such a drastic change is somewhat odd considering the fact that the recently completed 2013 NCAA Tournament was the most-watched in 19 years.