Time Warner’s (TWX) Turner Broadcasting and CBS (CBS) inked a $10.8 billion, 14-year deal Thursday to televise NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament beginning in 2011.
The new agreement comes at a premium to the expiring 11-year contract that was signed by CBS in 1999 and was worth just $6 billion. The deal means that for the first time, all games will be televised live across four national networks: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.
CBS and Turner may also have the opportunity to televise more games than ever before because the NCAA’s basketball committee unanimously voted to recommend increasing the tournament field size from 65 to 68 teams beginning in 2011. The NCAA will review the decision at its April 29 meeting. Some had expected the field to be expanded to 96 teams.
Turner is a newcomer to the March Madness coverage as the popular tournament was only shown on CBS since 1982.
The two networks will split coverage of the first- and second-round games and CBS will have exclusive coverage of the regional finals and Final Four through 2015. The NCAA said CBS and Turner will then split coverage of the regional finals and Final Four and the national championship game will alternate between CBS and TBS.
“In this agreement, we have created a new strategic partnership that not only makes this prestigious property an ongoing core asset in our stable of major television events but a profitable one as well,” Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our friends at Turner as together we combine our industry-leading media assets to maximize the value of this great NCAA championship.”
Shares of both Time Warner, the parent of Turner, and CBS rose slightly in the wake of the news, though it’s unclear how much impact the announcement had on the stocks. Time Warner was recently up 0.36% to $33.20. CBS’s stock hit a 52-week high and gained 0.99% to $16.26.
Turner also praised the agreement, with David Levy, its president of sales, distribution and sports, saying, “We are well-positioned to monetize our investment in NCAA programming across three nationally distributed networks.”
March Madness On Demand, the tournament’s popular online streaming video platform, will continue to be launched from NCAA.com and CBSSports.com under the terms of the agreement.