SBD/March 15, 2011/Media

truTV Set To Make Its NCAA Tourney Debut With First Four Games Tonight, Tomorrow

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The NCAA men's basketball tournament tips off tonight with two of the First Four games on truTV, "one of four channels carrying the tournament" beginning this year, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The four-channel plan "means all games will be seen nationally," so fans "can watch straight through to a buzzer-beater or a 40-point blowout -- as long as they know which networks the games are on." But the "biggest challenge" for CBS and Turner Sports is to "persuade sports viewers that truTV exists." Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy: "That first day, people will wonder, 'Where's truTV?'" Sandomir notes the network "has 91 million subscribers and its viewership is 65 percent male," but "unlike TNT and TBS, it is not known for sports." Yet truTV will carry 13 games, more than the 12 games scheduled for TNT. Levy: "We needed four networks and it's a top-10 cable network in adults 18-to-49." Turner studio analyst Charles Barkley said that he "told his bosses at the Turner that it was wrong to begin the NCAA contract with four games on truTV." Barkley: "I watch Jesse Ventura's show and I like the Lizard towing people, but truTV's hard to find. It's not in a lot of hotels and our target audience are basketball players and fans; depending on what hotel they stay in they may or may not get truTV. I thought they should be on TNT and TBS." Barkley said his suggestion was "not received very well" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/15).

THE TRU IS OUT THERE: TNT's Charles Barkley, who will serve as a studio analyst for the tournament, appeared on CBS' "The Late Show" last night and said of the tourney coverage, "We start tomorrow. We gave you two days to try to find truTV. Good luck with that" ("Late Show," CBS, 3/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg wrote, "Just because all 67 NCAA tournament games will air in their entirety doesn't mean that viewers will be able to find them. Anyone know what channel Tru-TV is? You have until Tuesday night's first game to find out" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/14). In New Orleans, Ted Lewis notes Pittsburgh players and coaches, who will play the winner of tonight's first game, "hope the team hotel has" truTV. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon: "The first thing I thought of was to get a place with truTV" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/15). In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote, "What in the name of public-access obscurity is truTV? And do I get it?" (K.C. STAR, 3/14). Meanwhile, Cox Communications Dir of Communications Christine Martin said that the MSO is "finalizing plans to carry truTV in HD from Tuesday through March 20 when the network will be carrying NCAA men's basketball tournament games." Cox also "plans to offer a six-channel mosaic (CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV, ESPN and CBS College Sports) on SportsZone channel 998 during the tournament" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 3/11).

X MARKS THE SPOT: In Cincinnati, Shannon Russell reports the Xavier Univ. men's basketball team's "trials and tribulations will be documented on the small screen" during the tournament. In partnership with CBS and Turner Sports, N.Y.-based producers Danielle Santoro, Alexis Arguello Jr. and Blake Berson "have begun filming 'Xavier Confidential' -- a look at the Musketeers as they prepare for, and play in, their sixth straight Big Dance." The first footage "airs during tonight's NCAA Tournament post-game show on truTV, and all segments will be shown on NCAA.com." If Xavier advances to at least the Sweet 16, the footage "will be converted to a documentary." The producers "have been shadowing the team for two days and counting" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/15).

CBS employing a larger video player for
this year's March Madness on Demand
NEW FEATURES ON MMOD
: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted there is a "larger video player" this year for CBS' March Madness on Demand, "so when people initially log into the MMOD application, the size of the initial viewing window will be larger than it was in past years." The personalized "My Channels" feature under "Settings" allows you to "plug in your Zip code and TV provider to see your channel lineup for every game, including games in HD." The "Game Center" dashboard "features in-game highlights and live stats, including a traditional box score, scoring streaks, a lead tracker, and a chart of players in foul trouble." The new "March Madness Social Area" is a "virtual meeting place for fans, as well as for Turner social hosts/reporters who will cull through social media to provide the most interesting tweets and social trends regarding the tournament" (SI.com, 3/11). In addition to MMOD, NCAA.com will be running complete coverage from every game of the NCAA tournament, including pre- and post-game stories, up-to-the-minute scores, live stats, video highlights and photo galleries. Turner Sports runs the site for the NCAA. The site will also include historical features such as fan voting for the best classic game, Legends features, “Where are they now” and moments in history from the NCAA Vault as well as post-game press conferences and other behind-the-scenes video. Coca-Cola, an NCAA corporate champion, is sponsoring the Coke Zero March Madness Social Arena, a social media hub for fans to interact with Turner and CBS sideline reporters (Turner Sports).

UNSUNG HEROES: The UPS Store yesterday launched its Print Madness promotion, which highlights team managers. Through April 15, the videos of five managers representing four schools will be posted on The UPS Store Facebook page, and users can vote for their favorite team manager story by "liking" the video on Facebook (UPS Store).
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