CBS, Turner Broadcasting Sign $10.8 Billion, 14-Year NCAA Basketball Deal

CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting agreed to a $10.8 billion, 14-year contract for broadcast, Internet and wireless rights on an expanded men’s college basketball championship tournament.

The games will be shown nationally on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV next year, with CBS and Turner splitting coverage of regional semifinals, the companies said today in an a statement. CBS will air regional finals, as well as the Final Four national semifinals and championship game through 2015.

The tournament will add three teams, stretching its field to 68, if the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Board of Directors approves the recommendation of the group’s Division I Men’s Basketball Committee in a vote on April 29.

CBS, which has carried the tournament -- known as “March Madness” -- since 1982, joined with Turner to prevent Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN from gaining the contract. On average, the NCAA will receive $740 million a year, Jim Isch, the Indianapolis-based group’s interim president, said in the statement.

“CBS had escalating costs in the previous NCAA deal that have been replaced and that puts CBS on solid footing for lasting financial stability,” Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, said today on a conference call.

Duke University’s 61-59 victory over Butler University this month tied the highest television rating for college basketball’s championship in 11 years. The game drew 34 percent more viewers than last year’s final between the University of North Carolina and Michigan State.

CBS, owner of the most-watched U.S. television network, rose 6 cents to $16.16 at 12:40 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares had gained 15 percent this year before today. New York-based Time Warner fell 7 cents to $33.01 and had advanced 14 percent in 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

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