SBD/Issue 136/Sports Media

CBS' Final Four Ratings Show Decline From '07 Levels

CBS' Ratings For Final Four Games Down From '07

CBS' coverage of Saturday's Memphis-UCLA NCAA men's basketball tournament national semifinal game, played in the early window of the net's Final Four coverage, earned a 7.2 overnight rating, down 14.3% from an 8.4 for the comparable Ohio State-Georgetown game in '07. In the late window, Kansas-North Carolina averaged an 8.8 overnight, down 1.1% from an 8.9 for Florida-UCLA last year (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 4/7).

PACK MENTALITY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS' Billy Packer has "drifted from what made him a valued analyst." Packer "used to speak only to tell us something worth our attention; he seemed to understand that live TV didn't need that much extra help." Mushnick: "He now seems compelled to say something -- anything -- on every possession" (N.Y. POST, 4/7). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes in Packer's "world, every play requires a comment even if there's nothing to say." Zelkovich: "He must have told viewers five times in the Kansas-North Carolina game that the former team was looking a little tight after almost blowing a big lead" (TORONTO STAR, 4/7). In South Carolina, Sean Horgan writes Packer's "one-size-fits-all analysis tells you the same things about the same games no matter which teams are playing." Horgan: "At some point, CBS has to figure out how bad Packer is, right? ... Packer is the Dick Cheney of sports announcing. The only thing that makes him remotely palatable is the serial niceness of Jim Nantz" (Myrtle Beach SUN NEWS, 4/7). However, in Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote, "To their credit, neither Packer nor Nantz raised their coverage to histrionic levels, offering measured responses about what was happening on the floor" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 4/6). Packer: "My job is to say what I see, not have some kind of subconscious feelings about offending anybody" (USA TODAY, 4/7).

EYE-SIGHT PROBLEMS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes CBS "could have done more by bringing its studio show on-site" instead of broadcasting from N.Y. Also, the NCAA "should have insisted CBS air fewer commercials -- even if it meant CBS would pay smaller rights fees -- so viewers don't have to sit through on-air corporate onslaughts to watch amateur sports" (USA TODAY, 4/7). In K.C., Jeffrey Flanagan reports CBS yesterday arranged an interview with Memphis coach John Calipari and Kansas coach Bill Self, though the net "apparently forgot to tell either coach about the setup." Calipari arrived first and asked a CBS staffer, "What is this for?" When Self arrived a few minutes later, he "seemed a bit surprised and said, 'Are we doing this together?'" (K.C. STAR, 4/7).

CBS Feels Basketball Configuration Of
Large Domes Not Conducive To Television
DOME DRONE: In Jacksonville, Jeff Elliott reports the NCAA's "quest to draw record crowds to future Final Four dome venues with a change in the configuration of the court setup is not meeting with the same enthusiasm" from CBS. Packer: "That may sound good (attracting big crowds in the domes), but the angle that the announcers have of the game in this configuration is of the ankles of the players. It's like those guys that go in swimming pools and they're underwater so they can see the stroke from underneath. That's basically how you announce the game in this configuration, which is kind of strange." CBS Sports Producer Bob Dekas: "The audio gets lost in a dome like that. You'd have to have a roaring home crowd in order for the audio to be good" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/7).

KNIGHT AND DAY: The N.Y. POST's Mushnick wrote ESPN is "so proud to have Bobby Knight on its NCAA tournament studio team" it has created a promo featuring highlights of Knight's time at the net. Mushnick: "Suddenly, ESPN wants us to think of Knight as Will Rogers. ESPN apparently has misplaced that other Knight clip reel, the one with footage, compiled over 35 years, of him physically and verbally abusing and bullying people for no better reason than that he could get away with it" (N.Y. POST, 4/6).

HALL BOUND: In Ft. Worth, Wendell Barnhouse reports Packer and ESPN's Dick Vitale are among the seven inductees for the third class of the National Collegiate Basketball HOF. Former players Danny Manning, Charles Barkley and Arnie Ferrin, along with coaches Nolan Richardson and Jim Phelan, round out the class (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/7). Vitale today also was selected into the Basketball HOF as a contributor to the game (Mult., 4/7).

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