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Why Are The Final 4 Games On TBS Instead Of CBS?

Around 6 p.m E.T. Saturday, NCAA Tournament viewers will take a seat on their couch, put their feet up, and turn on their television. The channel will be turned to CBS, the long-time home to the Final Four's broadcast. A night of two exciting basketball games awaits. 

They'll be on the wrong station. 

For the first time in its 76-year history, the Final Four contests will be broadcast on a cable network. As part of the 14-year, $10.8 billion contract the NCAA signed with CBS and Turner in 2010, TBS will carry Saturday's tournament semifinal games. At the same time, TNT and truTV will show “Your Team, Your Way” broadcasts, tailored for each team.

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Florida and UConn are set to tip-off in the first game at 6:09 p.m. E.T. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Wisconsin and Kentucky will begin action roughly 40 minutes following the conclusion of the bout between the Gators and Huskies.

Traditionalists will get their way on Monday, when the national championship game gets broadcast by CBS. That'll change in 2016, though, when TBS takes it. Beginning that year, TBS will take the Final Four and national championship games in even-numbered years through 2024. CBS, the exclusive home to the Final Four since 1982, will get the games during odd-numbered years.

Recently, college football's BCS games have landed on ESPN, a cable network, and the upcoming College Football Playoff's games will be on ESPN, too. The worldwide leader is a major reason why the NCAA Tournament has moved to broadcasting games on cable stations. 

“We were facing incredibly stiff competition from ESPN,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports said. “We needed a partner to compete.”

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CBS got that partner in Turner. In 2010, the NCAA wanted to re-negotiate its then-current 11-year, $6 billion deal with CBS. So CBS partnered with a cable network that had a ton of money to spend, and the CBS-Turner duo outbid ABC-ESPN. 

The current deal gives the NCAA $771 million annually. 

">April 5, 2014