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March Madness

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Spring is in the air and the college basketball season is at its finest.  As we enter into the most exciting month of college sports, I am pondering how my Cards will do in the Big East Tournament and also how splitting the coverage between broadcast and cable will work in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Certainly sports coverage has always been sprinkled between different broadcast networks and with notable cable networks without a second thought.  It is interesting, however, that these will all be games within the same sporting event.

I’ve always thought it was fair for the consumer that the tournament can essentially be viewed without a fee, since it has been aired on a broadcast station, rather than a “pay cable” network such as ESPN.  Although perhaps, this will lead to greater sampling on the cable networks than are airing the games, and increase those network’s ratings after the season ends.

It will also be very interesting to buyers to see what types of packages the CBS affiliates and cable systems have put together for advertisers.  Will they promote high ratings related to local games?  Can they guarantee they will carry those games?  Will the rates be significantly higher, since tournament inventory is lower?

All indications are that CBS will air fewer and fewer tournament games, until the tournament moves exclusively to cable within the next five years.   It will be very interesting to see feedback from consumers, as well as how the local affiliates and cable systems position their offerings to advertisers.

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