CBS Sports, Turner Sports Preview NCAA Tournament Production Logistics
With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament just around the corner, CBS Sports and Turner Sports previewed their fifth consecutive year teaming up to produce one of the wildest events on the sports-production calendar, March Madness.
The tandem will again produce 67 games during three weeks across four networks — CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV — which, as one can imagine, is a logistical challenge that takes a long, six-month process to outline.
A shakeup in the event’s top on-air talent team threw a complication into the mix. With the departure of Steve Kerr, who took the job as head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and Greg Anthony, who is dealing with legal issues, CBS and Turner had to make big shifts in its on-air announce teams. That in turn, says Craig Barry, SVP, production/executive creative director, Turner Sports, required a rethinking of the production/talent teams as well.
“In this particular case, we had a lot of the teams and logistics in place,” he says. “What we look at when we have to shift our talent teams around is who are the production teams going to follow and [what is] the right fit of a production team to produce a talent team. We really didn’t have all of that in place until two weeks ago.
“This isn’t an individual in operations or logistics [handling everything],” he continues. “This is about the collective. Everybody has a job to do, and everyone is working together to achieve a common goal. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but that’s truly what it is.”
March Madness is a high-traffic event with multiple games happening simultaneously and consumed by fans in a wide variety of ways: on TV, via mobile through March Madness Live, on desktop computers. For that reason, a simple, classic production of the actual game itself is a logical choice for making the games fit easily into all those viewership buckets.
“In fairness, CBS does that really well,” says Barry. “We are able to glean off of them and understand and learn that. We are able to offer some guidance and vision in terms of the more innovative stuff, and that’s part of the reason the partnership works so well. They’ve been doing this for so long that we would be fools not to follow their lead. On the other hand, we have spent so much time in the digital business, in that extended content realm, that I would think they feel the same way about us in that regard.”