Last year’s NCAA tournament selection show was disastrous.
CBS, which handles the broadcasted tournament bracket reveal every year, drew out the special into a two-hour monstrosity. Revealing a 68-team bracket should only take a few minutes, even if it’s being done by region-by-region. And in the past, CBS has mostly revealed the bracket quickly. Last year, it wasn’t nearly that simple.
Last year’s show started at 5:30 p.m. ET, as will this year’s (CBS, NCAA.com). It took 21 minutes for CBS to start moving through its bracket reveal, then way longer than that to get all the way through the field.
By the time CBS was done, a complete and accurate bracket had leaked on Twitter, rendering the show just about obsolete. But we all kept watching, and CBS didn’t let up on its faux suspense until the better part of two hours was gone.
Thankfully, things are getting better in 2017.
Network and NCAA executives probably didn’t enjoy the embarrassment of the leaked bracket a year ago, and they had to have heard the widespread feedback that the selection show dragged on too long.
“We tried something new last year, and I think we probably underestimated the desire of the fans to see the brackets as soon as possible,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told Sports Business Daily last week. “So we’ll go back to what we’ve done before, and have the vast majority of the selections out in the first half-hour, and then move more toward the analysis.”
This year’s show will wrap in 90 minutes, as opposed to last year’s two hours. That last year’s show was a commercial dud probably also had something to do with the change.
CBS drew a 3.7 overnight rating for NCAA Selection Show. Lowest in around 20 years. First-ever 2-hour format in 2016. Also had bracket leak.
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) March 14, 2016
The NCAA has said it is “reducing the number of entities and people who receive the bracket in advance” this year, in hopes of avoiding another leak. That would take the air out of a highly produced, lucrative reveal show that should have many millions of viewers. And if it happened again, no one outside the NCAA and CBS would likely mind.