SBD/Issue 138/Sports Media

CBS Averages 9.0/18 Overnight For NCAA Men's Final Four Telecasts

CBS' Final Four Overnight Ratings Up 7.1%
From Last Year
CBS averaged a 9.0/18 overnight rating for Saturday's NCAA men's basketball Final Four telecasts, up 7.1% from an 8.4/16 overnight last year. The net earned an 8.7/18 for Michigan State-Connecticut in the early window from 6:00-8:45pm ET, up 11.5% from a 7.8/16 last year, and the late-window North Carolina-Villanova game from 9:00-11:30pm ET earned a 9.3/17, up 2.2% over a 9.1/16 last year. CBS for the tournament-to-date is averaging a 6.1/13 overnight rating, up 7% over a 5.7/12 last year (THE DAILY).

MISSING THE MARK: In San Jose, John Ryan writes CBS analyst Clark Kellogg was "less than the world hoped in his first Final Four," and play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz was "what everybody has come to expect, and not in a good way." It is "difficult to see how even Billy Packer would have adopted the see-no-evil apologist stance Nantz and Kellogg took in defense of Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun." Connecticut last month was linked to "serious recruiting violations," but Nantz, "after excusing Calhoun's continued refusal to say anything in even mild defense of himself, lauded the coach's 'pretty clean dossier.'" Ryan: "Because government records were an actual part of the original article, we can only assume Nantz chose not to read it. Same with Kellogg who added, 'The review continues from the NCAA, and after it runs its course, he feels as though they'll be clean as they've always been'" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/6). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote CBS "should consider selecting two voices, whom they believe had the strongest tournament, to call one of the semifinal matchups." Raissman: "Not only would it give every voice an incentive, it would also serve as a reward for a job well-done." And if this system were used this year, announcers Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery "would get the nod." Raissman: "Simply put, they were the stars of this show" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/5).

MOTOWN BLUES: In Detroit, Mekeisha Madden Toby wrote CBS "obviously understood the significance" of Michigan State's (MSU) run to the Final Four amid Michigan's "depressed economy and high unemployment rate." Nantz Saturday said that he "had never before seen a hometown crowd dominate a stadium at an NCAA championship match like the one in Detroit" at Ford Field. CBS cameras often cut to Basketball HOFer and MSU alumnus Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, in the crowd. Toby: "Almost every time MSU snatched the lead in the game, and later when they won, a State-shirt clad Johnson, was shown clapping wildly and pointing to players proudly." Meanwhile, Toby noted CBS at halftime aired the presentations for the CBS/Chevrolet Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards, but producers "should've taken advantage of Detroit's rarely seen April sun and decent weather and shot the obviously pre-recorded segment outdoors." Also missing during commercial breaks were the "obligatory shots of Detroit landmarks -- the giant Uniroyal tire, Hitsville USA, Joe Louis' fist, and the Spirit of Detroit." Toby: "Perhaps CBS will show those ... iconic local symbols on Monday" during the championship game (DETROIT NEWS, 4/5). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Austin Kelley notes CBS throughout Saturday's broadcast "made frequent reference to Detroit's troubles and to the sinking economy, while GM commercials reminded consumers to put on their 'rally caps.'" GM North America VP/Chevrolet Ed Peper during the halftime award presentation "even felt compelled ... to mention that the automaker was 'reinventing' itself" (WSJ.com, 4/6).

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