March Madness could move to cable


Just like the Bowl Championship Series in college football, the NCAA Basketball Championship games might make the move from broadcast television to cable. The reason? Money, of course.

Sports Business Journal reports that NCAA officials are mulling the value of the annual college basketball playoffs and could decide to exercise an escape clause in the association’s 11-year, $6 billion deal with CBS. That option to leave the NCAA’s longtime broadcast partner could be exercised at the end of the 2010 Final Four.

CBS, the report said, is expected to fight hard to hold onto the NCAA games. It’s contract is said to be heavily backend loaded, so more than a third of the total value is in the final three years of the current contract: 2011-2013. That could make the NCAA think twice about ditching the deal.

The plus side, though, would be expanding the tournament. A larger field of teams would expand the number of games and increase the tournament rights fees. Just how much would ESPN or another cable network be willing to pay?