CBS, Harris to Triple March Madness HD Coverage

An impressive line-up of nearly 40 NCAA Tournament games will be aired in HD with 5.1 surround sound starting soon, as CBS Sports and digital partner Harris continue to grow their annual March Madness offerings, and also provide consumers with one more excuse (post-Super Bowl) to go HD.

Working together again for a second season, Harris and CBS HD hoop coverage will leap from last year's dozen games to 39 contests this year-- including 24 games from four of the eight first-round sites--starting on March 17 and running through early April. (In 2004, HD games originated from only one first-round site.) And if anyone ever doubted CBS Sports' longtime commitment to advancing high definition, consider this fact: Both national semifinal games and the National Championship Game will be broadcast live by CBS in HD for the sixth straight year. That goes back far enough to when you could count the number of HD viewers in the mere hundreds.

The joint production will result in a 1080i feed, to be down-converted for analog (a technique that also produces a better analog picture, too). Despite the two different aspect ratios and obvious video-audio quality, viewers will see basically the same camera angles, replays and graphics--and hear the same play-by-play between HD and analog. That's more good news for HD, because despite the production components that make traditional analog TV sports coverage highly watchable--including multiple camera angles, graphics effects, directing and sometimes even play-by-play talent--these elements sometimes had been sorely missing from HD-only productions of other sports by other parties, in what too often appeared to be "experiments in television" (which they were, in some cases, of course).