Will 2010 be the last hurrah for March Madness on CBS? The NCAA is currently in an 11-year, $6 billion deal with the network to broadcast its men’s basketball tournament through 2013. However, the NCAA has an opportunity to exercise an option to get out of the deal after next year’s tourney.
(No more Cinderella stories like George Mason for CBS?)
Richard Sandomir of the NEW YORK TIMES brings up the possible scenario of March Madness moving its way off of CBS and bouncing over to another network. Let’s see - what television network with a heavy emphasis on sports programming would be interested in airing such a grandiose event?
Er, I mean, ESPN!
The Worldwide Leader already outbid Fox to carry the BCS starting in 2011. However, that was before the economy went in the crapper. The current financial situation may not be favorable for ESPN to be buying any more billion-dollar broadcasting rights:
The financial world has changed drastically since the [NCAA-CBS] deal was signed on Nov. 18, 1999 (although it did not go into effect until 2003, after a previous deal expired). The Dow Jones industrial average stood at 11,035.70 that day, but it closed Monday at 7,216.97; Citigroup stock was at $56.25 and is now at $2.23; Bank of America has fallen from $65.38 to $6.18; and General Motors from $69.81 to $2.52.
And it wouldn’t seem like the NCAA would be in such a big hurry to give up a guaranteed $545 million from CBS in the remainder of their contract, just to try and squeeze a few pennies more from some other TV suitor.
Besides, CBS has already bumped out Billy Packer. Why negate such a positive move by bringing in Dick Vitale tourney courtside?
On the other hand, March Madness on ESPN means more Erin Andrews.