SBD/Issue 129/Sports Media

CBS' MMOD Setting More Records; Net Explains Louisville Gaffe

CBS Sports' March Madness On Demand (MMOD) through the opening weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament drew 5.6 million unique users, up 60% over the same period last year, and there have been 6.5 million total hours of video and audio consumed thus far, a 71% increase over last year. MMOD users clicked the "Boss Button" 2.5 million times through the opening weekend (THE DAILY). CBS Sports Sunday added another 900,000 hours of consumed audio and video for MMOD (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Steven Zeitchik notes CBS has "made a number of tweaks" to its MMOD during its four years of existence, "increasing the number of users who can access it, removing blackouts of locally televised games and adding new platforms like the iPhone." CBSSports.com Senior VP & GM Jason Kint: "The game-changer this year was CBS Interactive marketing it in a way they never have before." Kint said that CBS "will hit its pre-tournament projection of $30[M] in dedicated online revenue" for the tournament (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/24).

Close Finish In Michigan State-USC Game
Helps CBS Win Ratings Battle Sunday
RATINGS GAME: DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell notes the "conclusion of some nail-biter" games in the tournament, as well as President Obama's appearance on "60 Minutes," carried CBS to a "strong Sunday in the ratings, winning in both demos and total viewers." The NCAA tournament coverage Sunday, which ran until about 7:50pm ET and included Michigan State-USC and Missouri-Marquette, averaged "more than 15 million viewers to dominate the opening hour of primetime" (DAILY VARIETY, 3/24). Meanwhile, with just two teams remaining seeded fifth or higher, ESPN’s Erik Kuselias said, “There is no Cinderella this year. Is it better this way when you get the favorites? I think most people would say no. … But the ratings are much better when the big teams show” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 3/24).

BAIT & SWITCH: CBS Sports Exec VP/Programming Mike Aresco yesterday explained the decision to cut away from the end of Sunday night's Louisville-Siena game in the Louisville and Albany markets in favor of the Missouri-Marquette game. Aresco: "We always plan on staying with a constant. In some situations, and we've done it over the years, we'll try to get to just a buzzer-beater and get right back to the constant. In this particular case we had an unusual situation that developed. You had two exciting potential buzzer-beaters at the same time. We're trying to what we call ping-pong back and forth and then there were some bizarre circumstances in those games and we did use commercials as best we could. When games were stopped we would go back but in this particular case, yeah, we didn't get back fast enough and things were happening quickly and it happens." Aresco said CBS "in this particular case" made a mistake. Aresco: "I think in this particular case we probably needed to get back a little quicker." Meanwhile, Aresco described the network cutting away from Friday night's Wisconsin-Florida State game while the final shot was in mid-air as a "control room error" ("Mad Dog Unleashed," Sirius XM Radio, 3/23).

CBS Admits Mistake In Cutting Away From
Louisville-Siena Game In Home Markets
CARDINAL SIN: Louisville's WLKY-CBS President & GM Glenn Haygood said CBS "apologized for what they did." Haygood: "They pledged that they would never again cut in on a University of Louisville constant feed in the Louisville television market. They completely understand their mistakes" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 3/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Eamonn Brennan wrote of CBS switching away from the Louisville-Siena game, "Something tells me that this was a flub rather than an intentional programming decision. Either way, it's a major mistake, one CBS would do well to make up to Louisville-area viewers in the near future" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/23). ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb said fans wanting to watch the Missouri-Memphis Sweet 16 matchup Thursday night but are outside of the home markets should make plans to go out and watch it instead of watching it at home. Gottlieb: "You don’t want to depend on CBS’ switcher guy. I’m not sure who the switcher guy was, but he had a very difficult weekend last weekend” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/24).

OPENING WEEKEND GRADES: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Brian Powell listed his winners and losers among CBS' announcers for the opening weekend. Analysts Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas are listed among the winners, and Powell wrote of Raftery, "He always has fun and anytime he brings his 'lingerie' reference into a game, I just crack up. Some might find him annoying, but I've always loved his passion, and he should be on the first team with [Jim] Nantz." Powell wrote there "isn't a better live game analyst in the game at the moment" than Bilas. Meanwhile, announcer Tim Brando and analyst Clark Kellogg are ranked among the losers. Powell: "I thought Brando had a much better showing this go around, but he still tries to force things." And Kellogg "just isn't ready for the big time yet." He is "another guy who tries to force everything and make the routine exciting" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/23).

Kellogg Not Making
People Forget Packer
LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP: In DC, Leonard Shapiro offered a love/hate list for the opening weekend of the tournament. Shapiro wrote he loves that ESPN's Dick Vitale "mercifully is not remotely involved in the CBS coverage and, so far, hasn't even shown up in a tournament-related commercial." And ESPN's Bob Knight is a "must-watch on ESPN, a natural born analyst with spot-on observations every time he talks." But Shapiro wrote he hates that Billy Packer, who retired as CBS' lead game analyst after 27 years, "has not been included in the network coverage." Shapiro ranked Kellogg as neutral. Shapiro: "I've always liked Clark Kellogg's work in the CBS studio at tournament time, but I'll wait until after the Final Four before making a definitive judgment on his replacing Packer as the lead game analyst. So far, he seems far less analytical than Packer, gets a tad too high-decibel excited at times and more than occasionally points out the obvious." Meanwhile, Shapiro wrote he loves CBS' "look-ins" to other games. Shapiro: "After all these years, with so many staggered starting times, CBS has this down to a science, updating close games from other regions and usually leaving blowouts at just the right time, then getting back to the same game if things get a little closer." Shapiro added he loves "having every game on streaming video" through MMOD (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/23).

TAKE A BREATH: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes of the CBS analysts, "These guys won't shut up. They won't allow the game to breathe. They begin non-stop analysis from the opening tip. Why even bother having play-by-play men? The producers are letting these analysts (mouths) run wild. Perhaps they are not familiar with the following phrase: A moment of silence, please" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/24).

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