DirecTV maintaining Madness

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DirecTV Group has reached a multiyear extension of its agreement with CBS that will keep the direct-broadcast satellite provider the exclusive national TV source for out-of-market games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament games.

DirecTV on Monday also agreed to expand the reach of CBS-owned CSTV from about 2 million DirecTV customers to more than 8 million by moving the college sports network from its sports package to its Total Choice Plus tier.

Financial details of the arrangements were not disclosed.

Sources said DirecTV will have exclusive rights to the March Madness games through 2010. Those buying the NCAA Mega March Madness package will receive up to 37 out-of-market CBS Sports-produced broadcasts, including high-definition broadcasts, from the first three rounds of the championship tournament.

The games available on DirecTV will be supplemental to the broadcasts of games on CBS, making all contests available to DirecTV customers.

DirecTV's move puts CSTV's total household reach at more than 20 million homes nationally.

"We continue to monetize our content across many of our programming genres, including sports, and this latest agreement with our partners at DirecTV is yet another example," CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves said. "We're not only generating new revenue through the NCAA satellite package, but by offering CSTV to more than 8 million DirecTV customers, we've significantly expanded its reach."

DirecTV president and CEO Chase Carey said the deal is consistent with his firm's philosophy that "exclusive sports programming has set DirecTV apart as the leading multichannel provider of the world's most important and exciting sporting events."
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