Fox Sports launching its own college hoops tourney to rival March Madness

Fox Sports is launching a college basketball tournament of its own.

Dubbed the College Basketball Crown, the new men’s postseason tournament was announced April 3, 2024 and will first run March 3, 2025 through April 6, 2025 in Las Vegas. 

Fox is partnering with live event promotor AEG on the effort. 

That will place it a week before the NCAA’s Final Four matchups that are part of March Madness

Creating its own tournament is a strategic move for Fox, which will air the Crown games on its broadcast network of the same name and the FS1 cable channel.

Currently, the NCAA broadcast rights are held by CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery (which airs them on TNT, TBS and truTV) — and that deal runs through 2032.

“Postseason college basketball is one of the most exciting times of year and FOX Sports is proud to be at the forefront of efforts to evolve and elevate the sport,” said Jordan Bazant, executive vice president, Fox Sports, in a statement. “Alongside AEG and the Big Ten, Big 12 and BIG EAST, we are thrilled to provide more opportunities for student-athletes to compete in high quality postseason college hoops and for viewers to enjoy the chase for the College Basketball Crown.”

Teams will be pulled from the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten conferences, thanks to them already having broadcast deals with Fox. Each conference will be given two automatic qualifiers among teams not qualifying for the NCAA bracket, with a committee used to fill out the 16-team field. 

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“We are thrilled to join Fox Sports, the Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East, who share our vision and our enthusiasm to create one-of-a-kind experiences and events that benefit both fans and the entire global sports landscape,” said Todd Goldstein chief revenue officer, AEG, in the announcement. “The time is right, Las Vegas is the ideal destination and the College Basketball Crown is the perfect additive event to further elevate the most exciting postseason in sports.”

College Basketball Crown logo design

For a logo, the organizers released a gold design with the familiar bumpy basketball texture. It features a crown icon to the left with curves clearly taken from the distinctive markings on basketballs while also conjuring visual connections to a basketball net.

The tournament name is stacked to one side in an extended-width all caps sans serif. 

Other alternative tournaments to NCAA matchups

This isn’t the first attempt to try to create postseason tourneys to rival the NCAA playoffs. The National Invitation Tournament has been around since 1938 and the College Basketball Invitational and CollegeInsider.com Tournament are other similar offerings.

Fox was likely eager to get in on the action and buzz that college basketball tournaments generate, looked at the NCAA rights being locked up until 2032 and decided creating its own matchups was the best and most realistic option.

Live sports have been emerging as a key way for media companies to attract eyeballs in real-time as the industry shifts away from linear schedules.

Keeping tabs on games, which many fans tie to bracket competitions and pools along with sports books, largely requires watching or tracking games in real time and the significant attention March Madness generates across social media and the general zeitgeist is invaluable. 

While the Crown will crowd the tournament landscape more, it’s also possible that the momentum created by March Madness and other efforts will fuel the newest matches to success. 

The tournament’s ticket sales will be handled by Vivid Seats.