College Basketball On NBC - History - 1969–1976


NBC didn't start airing regular season games until about 1975–76, when they partnered with TVS. While NBC Sports' on-air talent was used, the production was covered by TVS. By this point, NBC would air regional/national games on Saturdays and national games (called by Dick Enberg, Al McGuire and Billy Packer) on Sundays. As for the regional telecasts on Saturdays, typically in the Northeast, before the game featuring the Big East or Atlantic 10 conferences, it was the ECAC Game of the Week.

For NBC's first year of tournament coverage in 1969, they actually aired the consolation game nationally and the national semifinals regionally (which were on a Thursday night). 1972 marked the final year that NBC aired the consolation game. The following year marked the first time that the Final Four was on a Saturday, and the first prime time championship game to air on NBC.

By 1974, NBC was providing coverage of 9 games in 7 windows (a far cry from the current tournament coverage). 1974 also marked the first year that Billy Packer helped commentate an NCAA tournament game, starting a streak continued well into the 2000s (decade). The following year, NBC aired 10 games in 9 windows - presenting the regional finals as a tripleheader with regionalized coverage in the middle time slot. This was also the first year, Billy Packer, worked on coverage of the Final Four.

The 1976 tournament coverage served as an awkward transition period from Curt Gowdy to Dick Enberg. Although Enberg was NBC's lead college basketball play-by-play man during the regular season, Gowdy had a clause in his contract to do the NCAA championship game. As a compromise, NBC decided to put each of them on one national semifinal game along with Billy Packer. Then for the title game, they put both play-by-play voices together and relegated Packer to the studio (where he worked with Bryant Gumbel and Lee Leonard).

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