The NCAA Men's Division ?1 Basketball Championship, also known as March Madness, is a daunting challenge from a television production standpoint. The live airing of 32 games over two days is on par with both the Olympics and soccer's World Cup when it comes to a tough broadcasting job.
This is the third year of a 14-year collaboration between CBS and Turner Sports that allows fans the chance to see all the games on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV.
For Harold Bryant, the executive producer and vice president of production for CBS Sports, this an event to look forward to each year. I spoke with the man in charge of the production about how he and his Turner Sports counterpart Senior Vice President of Production Craig Barry make this event work so smoothly.
How has the partnership between CBS and Turner worked out thus far?
Bryant » "We have been able to work quite well together. We had to develop a uniform look across all media platforms. All the music, graphics and on-air look has to be the same no matter whether you are watching a game on CBS or TNT. We also have the broadband component where we integrate real-time stats along with social media to go along with the broadcasts."
Talk about the production effort.
Bryant » "Our remote trucks get to the arenas on Tuesday for the Thursday games and Wednesday for the Friday games. Our broadcasters will meet with all of the teams and do some fast homework on the schools we may not have a great deal of background on so they will be up to speed at game time."
What are things like at the CBS broadcast center in New York?
Bryant » "We have 125 or more staff members working around the clock on everything from game highlights to our studio shows. You have to remember that we are live for over 12 hours a day both Thursday and Friday. So Greg Gumbel, Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith in New York as well as Ernie Johnson, Seth Davis and Steve Smith in Atlanta will be doing pre-game, halftime and post-game shows almost nonstop as one game ends and another begins. But that said, both studio crews love the sport and they know this is a marathon and not a sprint."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.