March Madness: VITAC Captioning NCAA Hoops Tournament a Real Slam Dunk

by: David Titmus

More than a few people this week likely will be coming down with a serious case of March Madness as the NCAA college basketball tournament kicks off.

This 68-team hardwood bonanza has been known to crown a Cinderella or two, produce at least one shining moment a year, and turn millions of Americans into hard-core basketball fans. But regardless of whether you’ve got Villanova, Virginia, Kansas, Xavier, or any dark horse teams winning it all this year, VITAC has you covered.

VITAC once again will be providing captions for all the NCAA tournament coverage on the Turner family of networks – TBS, TNT, and truTV. VITAC will provide captions for two dozen games during the first round of play, and will caption the action all the way through to the Final Four and the championship game on April 2.

The NCAA basketball tournament continues VITAC’s impressive run of providing captions for this year’s biggest sporting events, including the NHL Winter Classic in January, the Super Bowl and Winter Olympic Games in February, and this month’s Paralympic Winter Games.

Infographic on odds of filing out a perfect NCAA tourney bracketThe tournament tips off this evening (Tuesday) with the first of four play-in games on truTV when LIU Brooklyn takes on Radford and St. Bonaventure plays UCLA. Captioned coverage continues tomorrow (Wednesday) on truTV with North Carolina Central playing Texas Southern and Arizona State hitting the court against Syracuse.

The round of 64 tips off Thursday afternoon. You can catch our realtime captions starting at 12:40 PM EST on truTV when No. 3 Tennessee takes on No. 14 Wright State; at 1:30 PM EST on TNT when No. 4 Gonzaga plays No. 13 UNC Greensboro; and at 2 PM EST on TBS when top-seed Kansas plays No. 16 Penn.

Our realtime captioners have been “warming up” for the tournament, preparing and researching team rosters and stats and loading names and spellings into their dictionaries, while our sports supervisors and realtime coordinators have been testing network and web connections with captioners in advance of each game. Our teams also have to keep track of the game clock as games often run longer than scheduled and are supposed to be immediately followed with another match-up.

And let’s not forget about our realtime schedulers who are responsible for assigning a captioner to each and every game! They’re true team players!

So don’t forget to turn on your captions if you’re watching any of the March Madness games on truTV, TBS, or TNT! And here’s hoping your brackets don’t get busted too early.

Tourney News and Notes

* TBS will televise the NCAA Final Four National Semifinals on Saturday, March 31, and then the National Championship on Monday, April 2, from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. This marks the fourth time San Antonio has hosted the Final Four.

* Approximately 23 million people watched the 2017 NCAA title game featuring North Carolina and Gonzaga. The game was broadcast in 176 countries, including 3.22 million viewers in China and the first-ever Spanish radio broadcast. There also were more than 9 million live streams during last year’s Final Four.

* There were more than 74 million social media impressions using the official March Madness social media handle during last year’s NCAA tournament, an increase of 42 percent over 2016.

* The 2017 NCAA tournament generated more than $1.2 billion in television ad revenue (up nearly 5% from the 2016 tourney).