By Michael Donovan
CBS is going to great lengths today to avoid what happened during last year’s Selection Sunday show:
The anonymous Twitter poster who leaked last year’s NCAA basketball tournament pairings halfway through CBS’s televised selection show!
CBS Sports and Turner — broadcast partners whose deal for the tournament is worth nearly $20 billion through 2032 — remember the episode well. And the NCAA said last month that it had “taken additional measures that we believe will prevent any premature release of information from reoccurring.”
“This includes,” the organization said, “reducing the number of entities and people who receive the bracket in advance.”
CBS is shortening the program — which begins at 5:30 today —for — to 90 minutes from two hours, and it will be front-loading the revealing of the bracket.
A “vast majority” of the bracket will be released in the first 30 minutes, Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said last week. Most supplementary analysis and interviews will take place only after the bracket is revealed, according to David Levy, Turner’s president.
“I think we underestimated the viewers’ impatience,” he said last week.
That might have been why many fans embraced the leak, even if those affected most directly were not sure what to make of it.
Seth Davis (above), a college basketball analyst for CBS and Sports Illustrated, was on the air when it happened, focusing on the task at hand — analyzing the bracket as teams were revealed — and trying to make sure he did not inadvertently commit a similar spoiler.
“I’m always petrified about revealing something,” Davis said. “Like, if Syracuse comes up: ‘Oh, I can’t believe Syracuse got in and Rhode Island didn’t!’”