Changes in TV landscape affect local sports fans
Posted May 7, 2013
Updated May 8, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Everybody has cable or satellite for their televisions right?
Nope. In the WRAL-TV viewing area, 12 percent don't have either and get their limited channel options by way of good 'ole free TV. That will have to change if any in the 12 percentile want to watch the Final Four in the future.
CBS and TBS moved up their window of sharing the Final Four by two years. In 2014 and 2015 the semifinal games will be on TBS and the championship game on CBS. The two networks will also split the regional finals which have been exclusively on CBS. Beginning in 2016, TBS will carry the Final Four and national championship in even numbered years through 2024. CBS will have the entire Final Four in the odd number years beginning in 2017.
Having worked for WRAL, a CBS affiliate, for a long time, I don't like it one bit. It takes incredibly popular inventory off of our air. Heck, I didn't like it two years ago when we weren't allowed to choose which NCAA tournament games we carry! That's why Duke, North Carolina and NC State games haven't all been WRAL the last two years. We are at the mercy of the agreement CBS and TBS made.
What the suits at CBS told us after their initial agreement with Turner Broadcasting in 2010 was hey, at least the NCAA tournament didn't go exclusively to ESPN.
The powerful sports network tossed a boat load of money to try and pry the tournament from CBS which has carried the Final Four since 1982.
The NCAA really wanted as many games available to air simultaneously and the agreement with CBS and Turner does that. So I guess limited product is better than no product for CBS.
Selfishly, I always want our local teams to be strong in basketball, but especially now in the odd years, when CBS has the Final Four (selfishly kidding there on the odd year comment).
Now to another TV issue and ESPN.
In anticipation of NC State's baseball match-up with North Carolina in late April, WRAL was asked if we would be interested in carrying the Friday and Saturday night games. We agreed to run it on a substation of ours, WRAL2. A little more digging by NC State officials led to ESPN denying us the right to carry the game because it was on ESPN3.
I hope those who couldn't be there in person were able to watch it on "The 3".
Advance to Sunday's finale at Doak Field scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPNU, the weather forecast was for rain late in the day. NC State and North Carolina wanted to move the game to 1 p.m. but they couldn't because it was on ESPNU and the network wasn't going to change the start time.
So the game stays at 7, the rain arrives as predicted and the game is a washout. Play it at 1 p.m. and you probably get it in. Thanks to the ACC's TV agreement with ESPN, we never got to see the series-deciding game - in person or on TV.
Down the road, maybe the game will be on the ACC Network, which is in the works and brings me to another topic.
What would an ACC Network do to Raycom Sports, which has long provided affiliates with ACC football and basketball programming?
Some think a network would dissolve Raycom's programming. There are a couple of athletic directors in the ACC who are concerned about NOT having football and basketball on free, local TV. You can bet the ACC Network will be a topic of discussion at next week's conference meetings in Florida.
Those "sail with the pilot" days of ACC basketball have long left the dock. Watching ACC basketball and football on free TV could soon follow.
And to those 12 percent in our viewing area who don't have cable or satellite TV, I hope you will be able to find another avenue to watch the Final Four when it's not on WRAL.