Although NBC-TV, largely through the work of announcers Al McGuire, Billy Packer and Dick Enberg, has become almost synonymous with college basketball during the last few years, it could lose its contract with the NCAA after this season.
Negotiations broke down in November, and the contract is now open for bids. According to several sources, CBS is prepared to make a serious bid.
"They're talking about giving up the NBA (telecasts) after this year, and they would really like in on the college basketball," said one NBC source. "We're hoping to get a contract signed before the regular season ends, but it might not be decided until the week of the (NCAA tournament) final four. CBS really wants to make a bid for it."
Since CBS took over NBA telecasts in 1974, ratings have consistently fallen, except for a brief resurgence last season. More than not, the Sunday college games have done better than the NBA game of the week -- and they cost less. The NCAA tournament games get excellent ratings, and undoubtedly whatever network has the contract next season will be able to increase the price of advertising.
That's why CBS wants in.
What CBS doesn't realize is that NBC's success is due in part to Enberg-McGuire-Packer. CBS has no one under contract who comes anywhere close to the NBC trio, although Packer's deal with NBC is open enough that he probably could be lured to CBS. Enberg has two more years on his NBC contract, McGuire three.