More HDTV Sports To Air

Sears and CBS Television announced an agreement last week under which Sears will sponsor high definition television coverage of the 2002 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. This marks the third consecutive year that CBS has broadcast the Final Four in HDTV.

In addition to the Final Four Championship game, coverage will be expanded to include first round games at MCI Center in Washington, DC, on Friday, March 15 (four games) and Sunday, March 17 (two games) and regional action in Lexington, KY, on Thursday, March 21 (two games) and Saturday, March 23 (one game). The first eight games will be regionalized broadcasts, while the Regional Final, National Semi-Final games and National Championship will be national broadcasts.

The broadcasts, which will be shown live by CBS Sports, will be presented as "unified" productions—produced in 1080i for HDTV fans and then down-converted for the CBS Television Network's analog broadcast coverage. CBS claims that this production technique also produces a better quality analog picture. "Whether watching in widescreen HD or traditional 4x3 analog, viewers will see the same camera angles, replays, and graphics and will hear the same play-by-play."

CBS's Sean McManus comments, "By expanding our coverage for this, our third consecutive HDTV Final Four, CBS Sports' leadership in presenting our marquee events in High Definition continues to grow." Sear's Ray Brown adds, "While Sears is a leading retailer in the sales of HDTV, we are aware there is a good deal of confusion among consumers about HDTV, which ultimately turns to excitement once the consumer experiences HDTV and learns more about it. With this partnership with CBS, Sears is taking a leadership role to help educate millions of consumers about the benefits HDTV offers."

CBS Sports' coverage of the 2002 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four and Championship games will be broadcast live Saturday, March 30 (6–11pm, ET) and Monday, April 1 (9–11:30pm, ET) from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Forty-six of CBS's owned and affiliated stations are currently broadcasting in digital, covering approximately 60% of the nation. By May 1, 2002, CBS expects to be transmitting digital programming across more than 75 owned and affiliated stations, reaching well over 68% of the country.

Clearly committed to the format, CBS has been broadcasting the majority of its prime time programming for the last three years in HDTV and is currently broadcasting all of its primetime dramas and comedies in hi-def.