On Tuesday the NCAA announced it had inked an eight-year deal with CBS and the Turner cable network to broadcast the NCAA Tournament all the way through the 2032 season.
The broadcasters have an eight-year deal currently in place but, according to the Associated Press, the new deal adds an additional eight years to the contract.
The NCAA noted that the new agreement has provisions to protect the broadcasters if the legal challenges the tournament faces change the face of the game.
“One reason we’re confident the tournament will remain the premier event it is, is the financial underpinning that CBS and Turner are providing to the NCAA,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told the AP.
The new deal increases the broadcasters’ per season payout from $770 million to $1.1 billion, the AP reported. Despite the major jump in fees CBS’ McManus insisted the deal was a “very prudent decision.”
Turner President David Levy added, “We believe it will be financially profitable at the end.”
The deal also includes the rights to any new broadcasting technologies that may be introduced in the next decade and a half.
While the championship game drew low ratings on TBS this season, the semifinals attracted much larger audiences.
The deal was notable in that CBS and Turner formed a compact as a single entity to negotiate instead of separate systems and will cooperate in the broadcasting services in the future.
“There are clauses that the tournament remains the premium tournament that it is today, the destination for Division I basketball schools to play in and compete in,” Turner chief Levy said. “If that changes in any way, shape or form, there are clauses that will allow us to have conversations if that’s necessary.”
But the legal challenges persist. One case, for instance, tried to force the NCAA to treat its players as professionals and allow college players to unionize. The case was struck down last October. But the organization has suffered other legal challenges, not to mention the questions of how fantasy sports betting might affect the games. Any of these challenges could materially change the way the NCAA operates.
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