FAQ: NCAA Tournament on TV, radio, Web, mobile
Posted March 5, 2011
Updated March 24, 2014
It's NCAA Tournament time on television, radio and digital platforms. Here's how to find and track your teams and even play to win $1 million if you can pick a perfect bracket.
You’ll find most of your questions about game times, regular programming and how to keep track of both answered below. Let us know if you have other questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them.
NCAA basketball on TV
Q: When do the games begin?
A: The Sweet 16 features with four games apiece on Thursday and Friday nights. The games will air as double-headers, beginning around 7 p.m., on WRAL-TV and TBS.
Q: What does this mean for primetime programs and the evening news?
A: Episodes of CBS Thursday comedies and Friday dramas are pre-empted across the country on Thursday and Friday. The following shows will not available anywhere at any time:
The Big Bang Theory
Two and a Half Men
The Crazy Ones
Find the full WRAL-TV schedule here
The primetime programs return during the first week in April at their regular times. On April 4, "Unforgettable" replaces "Undercover Boss" on the CBS Friday night schedule.
WRAL’s late night newscast is scheduled to begin after the games, at about midnight on Thursday and Friday nights.
Q: What is new for 2014?
A: For the first time, the three Turner networks -- TNT, TBS and truTV – will each carry the Saturday semifinal games. Each network will offer commentary and camera angles specific to one of the competing teams. Viewers can choose which version to watch.
Unfortunately, fans who do not have cable or satellite, or whose channel lineups do not include all three Turner networks, do not have access to those games on TV.
Q: Why is this good for viewers?
A: The NCAA’s 14-year contract with CBS and Turner Sports makes every tournament game available in its entirety on TV nationwide.
No longer are fans subject to the decision of the network of when to switch away from a game, and no longer will you have to wait for your game to be "joined in progress." If you have access to all four networks, you can customize your viewing to see the games you want from start to finish, and you can switch from game to game whenever you choose.
The broadcast windows are staggered in such a fashion that a fan can essentially watch wall-to-wall basketball all day and all night.
Q: How do the networks divvy up the games?
A: Over the course of the 67 games of the tournament, 16 air on CBS/WRAL (including the championship game).
CBS television stations across the country, including WRAL, do not have any choice of what games to air, even regarding teams of local interest. The national game selections are determined by CBS and the three Turner networks.
Q: Will WRAL carry the games featuring Duke or UNC?
A: Not necessarily. WRAL has no choice in what game it airs. The station carries whatever game CBS chooses to broadcast nationally.
Q: Can CBS/WRAL pick any game it wants?
A: Actually the networks pick “locations” instead of “games” for each broadcast window. The networks evaluate the interest in the combination of the two games being played at each site and make a selection accordingly.
In each broadcast window (afternoon and evening), CBS will stick to a single site, not take one game from one site and the second game from another.
Q: If a game is a blowout, will the network shift to another, more competitive game?
A: No. Each network must stay with the game that they were scheduled to broadcast. This puts the power in the hands of the viewer. You can change the channel to see a closer game or decide to stay with one until the end.
Q: Will the network switch to another game when a game ends early?
A: CBS is not permitted to take viewers to other games in progress other than a brief “look-in.” (Each network is only allowed a total of three minutes of “look-ins” during the course of a given time block.) If you choose to stay on a single channel, you will see studio updates, highlights and possibly brief “look-ins” between games, schedule permitting.
Q: Will the games be available in high definition?
A: All games on WRAL are in high definition. The three Turner networks have the games in high definition on their respective HD channels. Check with your cable or satellite provider to confirm whether you can receive the Turner channels in HD.
Q: Will any games be simulcast on more than one network?
A: No. Each of the games are shown nationally and independently.
Q: What if viewers do not have access to TBS, TNT or truTV?
A: Unfortunately, fans who do not have cable or satellite, or whose channel lineups do not include all three Turner networks, do not have access to those games on TV. Any game that is not assigned to CBS is shown on one of the Turner networks only. CBS, Turner and the NCAA are cooperating to offer some games online. See below for how to access "March Madness on Demand."
NCAA basketball on radio
Q: When I listen to NCAA games on local sports radio?
A: Both 99.9FM The Fan ESPN Radio and 620AM The Buzz will air live play-by-play of NCAA Tournament games up to and including the national championship.
The games of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 will alternate radio stations to allow for broadcasts of the Carolina Hurricanes.
All four games on Thursday night will air on 620 AM The Buzz. Friday's games begin immediately after Adam & Joe at 7 p.m. on 99.9 FM The Fan.
On Saturday, 620 AM The Buzz has an NCAA basketball double header beginning at 6 p.m. The basketball games air on 99.9 FM The Fan on Sunday starting at 2 p.m.
Note: Due to contractual restrictions, NCAA Tournament games cannot be streamed on WRALSportsFan.com or on The WRALSportsFan App.
Q: What happens to Adam & Joe's afternoon radio show during the games?
A: Adam and Joe will broadcast during their regular time slot on Thursday and Friday, immediately before the NCAA game resume.
Adam and Joe will take their show on the road to North Texas on April 5 and 8 as they broadcast live from Radio Row at The Final Four.
Q: What about coverage of the Carolina Hurricanes?
A: Carolina Hurricanes games, including the pregame "Stormfront" and postgame "Aftermath," will air as scheduled on 99.9FM The Fan throughout the NCAA Tournament.
Click for the complete Carolina Hurricanes schedule.
Q: Can I listen to games on The Fan and The Buzz online or on my mobile phone?
A: Unfortunately, no. The contract to broadcast NCAA games covers only radio, not our digital stream.
Track the NCAA Tournament on WRALSportsFan.com
Log on to WRALSportsFan.com for round-the-clock coverage of the Road to the Final Four.
Q: How can I find the TV/Radio schedule online?
A: Keep up with the four-network television schedule, the NIT and Division II championship and where to find your games on radio.
Q: Will WRALSportsFan.com have real-time scores?
A: Use the interactive NCAA bracket to choose any game for time, place and date, and track real-time running scores for all the games and summaries and box scores as the contests are complete.
Q: Where is the bracket contest?
A: A perfect bracket can win you $1 Million. Enter up front – make all your picks by Thursday – for a chance at the big prize.
Moe's $1 million bracket challenge
Even once your bracket is busted you can still play for prizes. The round-by-round bracket challenge starts over with each round.
Round-by-Round NCAA bracket challenge
You can even compare how you rate up against our “experts,” the guys who watch these games for a living.
Q: How about interviews? Photos?
A: After the games, go behind the scenes with streaming video and audio of postgame interviews with the players and coaches and relive all the action with round-by-round photo galleries.
Q: Can I get this on my phone or tablet?
A: WRALSportsFan.com – schedules, scores, brackets, stories, and video and audio interviews – is redesigned this year for your mobile device. Use your browser to access all the stories, video and audio of WRALSportsFan.com.
If you prefer an app, download WRALSportsFan for your iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
WRALSportsFan and individual reporters are also active on Twitter. You can follow them as they follow the games or connect to headlines and updates from WRALSportsFan at Twitter.com/WRALsportsfan.
Elsewhere on the Web
"NCAA March Madness Live," a cooperative effort of the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports will offer live game video over the internet.
All CBS games will be available without registration or charge. Games broadcast by the Turner networks will require that viewers log in with the password used for their cable or satellite provider.
Fans will also have access to live radio broadcasts, courtesy of Westwood One/Dial Global Radio Network, for all 67 games.
"NCAA March Madness Live" will work on computers, smart phones, the iPad and tablets with the Android 4.0+ operating system, the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.