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Turner plans seamless intro to NCAA hoops

Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley

Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley Photo Credit: Getty Images

Turner Sports is preparing to implement the first year of a $10.8 billion, 14-year deal for broadcasting rights to the NCAA Tournament, which it shares with CBS. amNY caught up with network president David Levy last week and asked about Turner’s plans for March Madness.

How will the partnership with CBS work?

Each opening-weekend game will air on a different network [CBS, TNT, TBS and  truTV]. ... Because the money is pooled, we’ll be able to direct audiences to games on different networks if their game is better. The networks will use the same graphics, same packages and same music. The only difference will be the logos.

The last time a network aired a postseason NCAA product without any regular-season coverage (FOX with the BCS in 2007), the result was mediocre at best. Are you worried about that happening here?

We’re aware of that. With FOX, they went into the BCS cold. With our broadcast team, we’ve been getting them runs. They’ll do a few games on CBS to get used to the college game. ... Also, most of our NBA team will be there. One of our play-by-play guys, Kevin Harlan, also does CBS. Marv Albert used to do college back from his NBC days. [Steve] Kerr has close ties with the college game. Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley] are obsessed with college basketball. ... We’re not concerned at all — in fact, we were giddy. Maybe we’d be concerned if we didn’t have a crew, if we had to pull guys from CBS or ESPN. But with the talent we have here, we’re not concerned at all.

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