NCAA Tournament: Innovation Is in the Access in CBS and Turner’s Seventh Year of Partnership
Additional high-speed camera at each site, two more Confidential crews bolster coverage
The madness of March is upon us, and CBS Sports and Turner Sports are set to broadcast 67 games over the next three weekends in the seventh year of a media partnership that is unique in sports television and video production.
“At this point, we have an ebb and flow between CBS and Turner,” says Craig Barry, EVP, production/chief content officer, Turner Sports. “They do things very well, we do things very well. Some of their strengths are our shortcomings and vice versa. We’ve really worked out ways to leverage our assets that best service the fans.”
The action began this week with the First Four, but the frenzy starts today, with the First Round tipping off at multiple venues across the country.
According to CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, each production site is receiving an extra super-slow-motion camera to add to its camera arsenal. Moreover, both networks are bringing back the popular NCAA March Madness Confidential series and adding two embedded crews with selected teams to tell deeper stories on those programs.
Much of the effort is built around driving better experiences for viewers by building one thing: access.
“Ultimately, our philosophy is about access,” says Barry. “How close can we get the viewer to the game, to the player, to the court? There’s a lot of gimmicks and gadgets that you could use that may or may not bring value. [CBS Sports Executive Producer/EVP, Production] Harold [Bryant] and I feel that, when you have an opportunity to put cameras and mics on the floor or more cameras in the locker room that create the opportunity for more access, then you are innovating on your coverage.”
This year’s Confidential series features six teams: Oregon, Florida, Minnesota, No. 6-seed Cincinnati, No. 8-seed Wisconsin, and No. 9-seed Virginia Tech.
Production crews were embedded with these teams for Selection Sunday and will stay with them throughout their participation in the tournament. Features on the teams will run during studio coverage on CBS, TBS, TNT. and truTV throughout the tournament. The content can also be found on NCAA.com and in versions of March Madness Live.