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CBS EARNS HIGHEST MEN'S TOURNAMENT RATINGS IN FOUR YEARS
Published March 24, 1998
An NCAA men's basketball tournament of "buzzer-beaters, upsets and feel-good stories" has helped CBS to its highest ratings for the event in four years, according to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Through Sunday's regional finals, CBS's NCAA men's coverage averaged a 6.2/13, 1% higher than last year's 6.1/14 and the "best since" '94's 6.6/15. Three of last weekend's games "posted gains" from the previous year. Saturday's UConn-UNC game earned an 8.2, up 9% from '97, while Sunday's Stanford-URI received a 6.4, up 5%, and Duke- Kentucky recorded a 9.9, up 11%. The Duke-Kentucky game was the "highest rated regional final since" Michigan-Arkansas got a 10.1 in '94 (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/24). In Dallas, Richard Alm notes that, due to the viewer demos for the tournament, CBS "isn't complaining about the" $213M rights fee it is paying for '98. The average tourney watchers have incomes 30% higher than the national average, and 70% own their own homes. Also, 40% of the audience are women, "high for sports events." CBS Sports VP/Programming Mike Aresco: "Young, college-educated men are a very hard to reach demographic segment. And this, by far, is the best vehicle to reach them" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/24). CBS NOTES: In N.Y., Bob Raissman calls CBS's production on Duke-KY "first-rate," and adds "so was the call of Jim Nantz and Billy Packer" (N.Y DAILY NEWS, 3/24). Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes on Packer: "If the full measure of an analyst is whether a viewer learns something ... Packer gets high marks" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/24). But in Boston, Howard Manly writes that the presence of ex-coaches Al McGuire and Dean Smith in the net's lineup "may be good for name recognition but lousy for insightful analysis. Neither criticizes his coaching brethren" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24). Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley will join CBS on this weekend's coverage of the men's Final Four (CBS).