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CBS' FIESTA BOWL COVERAGE MET WITH MIXED REVIEWS
Published January 4, 1996
Although CBS "won a battle" when No. 1 Nebraska met No. 2 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, the blowout "cost the network in the ratings war," according to Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. With the lopsided contest, CBS, which had hoped its national championship would match ratings of the '87 national title Fiesta Bowl, "fell considerably short of its expectations" with a 18.8 rating and a 31 share (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/4). NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay writes the "Tostitos were baked, and CBS got fried." But Zipay adds, "Some of CBS' wounds were self-inflicted." Zipay calls the telecast "embarrassingly below par, from production to relentless entertainment promotions to programming decisions." Zipay: "Too many cooks were involved in the telecasts: the entertainment division, the prime-time division (via Bill Cosby's cameos), the late-night division (via David Letterman's awkward halftime cheerleading) and ad sales." Zipay notes during the starting lineups, two logos appeared of Tostitos and MasterCard -- "a cardinal sin in marketing." CBS Sports VP/Programing Len Deluca: "CBS Sports is just part of the CBS family." Zipay: "Too bad that at times on Tuesday, the family appeared dysfunctional" (NEWSDAY, 1/4). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke notes the 18.8 was 18% below the 23 rating CBS had guaranteed many advertisers, "forcing CBS to give 'make-good' ads to sponsors, eight of which occurred in the second half." Jon Mandel of Grey Advertising doubts CBS will profit on the $26M paid in rights fees for the Orange and Fiesta Bowls, but Mandel believes the Bowl Alliance needs time to grow. Martzke cites Boomer Esiason's work during the pregame and at halftime as one of the few "bright spots" (USA TODAY, 1/4). In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers criticizes the announcing team of Jim Nantz and Terry Donahue: "Maybe CBS should have brought people like Montel Williams and Bill Cosby into the booth rather than interview them on the sideline or use them in corny pregame features" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/3). SEE YOU THIS MARCH: Make-goods to advertisers may come during CBS' Final Four coverage (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 1/4).