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The second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament averaged a 5.7 overnight Nielsen rating across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV Thursday, marking the best overnight for the first Thursday of the event since '91, when the tournament expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day. The 5.7 overnight is also up 24% from a 4.6 rating for CBS' coverage last year. Each window Thursday saw year-over-year overnight ratings gains.THURSDAY
(CBS, TNT, TBS, TRUTV)'10
TOP GAMES: CBS' telecast of BYU-Wofford at 7:00pm earned a 3.5 overnight, which led all NCAA games. truTV's top overnight was for the Wisconsin-Belmont game at 7:15pm, which earned a 0.9 overnight rating. The late window telecasts led TBS and TNT yesterday, with TBS' UCLA-Michigan State earning a 1.8 overnight, while TNT's Cincinnati-Missouri earned a 1.2 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).START (ET)
MATCHUPOVERNIGHTCBS12:00pm West Virginia-Clemson2.22:45pm Kentucky-Princeton2.57:00pm BYU-Wofford3.59:45pm Gonzaga-St. John's3.1truTV12:30pm Butler-Old Dominion0.63:15pm Pittsburgh-UNC Asheville0.57:15pm Wisconsin-Belmont0.910:00pm Kansas State-Utah State0.8TBS1:30pm Morehead State-Louisville0.94:15pm Richmond-Vanderbilt1.17:00pm Florida-UC Santa Barbara1.09:45pm UCLA-Michigan State1.8TNT2:00pm Temple-Penn State0.74:45pm San Diego State-Northern Colorado1.07:15pm UConn-Bucknell1.110:00pm Cincinnati-Missouri1.2
DIAPER DANDY: In Houston, David Barron writes things "couldn't have gone better for CBS and Turner on the first afternoon of their NCAA Tournament partnership." The spacing of games across the four networks "was sufficient that you could get by well enough with one TV and particularly well with a TV and a March Madness on Demand broadband connection." It appeared that the "only technical glitch" on the first full day of tournament coverage came during the opening games, when truTV "cut to about 30 seconds of 'Family Guy' on TBS during a commercial" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes, "The new normal in NCAA TV has arrived. And it's about time." CBS and Turner Sports aired each game nationally for the first time, "finally turning NCAA TV into regular TV, and the next step might be to create an NFL RedZone-like channel devoted to constantly switching viewers to the best action" (USA TODAY, 3/18). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes the "performance was smooth" on the opening day. The "strip across the top of the screen that lists the scores of other games in progress and what network they're on is helpful," and so is "having the logo of the network flash when a close game on another outlet is winding down." Caesar: "Another bonus was widespread coverage of late afternoon games, which didn't exist under the old system. ... So far, so good" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/18). But in California, John Maffei notes there "seemed to be a bit of a picture-quality issue from CBS to TNT, TBS and truTV." Maffei: "Could be the venues, could be the networks, but I noticed that CBS had a better-quality picture" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/18).
THE MORE, THE MERRIER: On Long Island, Neil Best writes, "By partnering with Turner and expanding the event to four channels from one, CBS eliminated what had been the most thankless job in sports television: Deciding when and where to send viewers during the frenzied early days of the tournament." CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said yesterday, "There is infinitely less pressure in doing this, absolutely." Announcers were instructed to "remind viewers of good games on other channels, and late in a close game, the logo of the relevant network began to flash on the live scoreboard." But there also was "some flexibility to show brief, late-game action from elsewhere." Best notes three of the four channels "showed Butler's buzzer-beating game-winner live" (NEWSDAY, 3/18). Freelance journalist Kyle Stack tweeted, “Announcers on CBS, TruTV doing a good job updating viewers on games occurring on other networks.” But DirecTV’s Andrew Siciliano tweeted, “Even with 4 networks, you still have to watch on the computer if you truly don't want to miss anything” (TWITTER.com, 3/17). In California, Jim Carlisle writes, "The beauty of this setup -- if there is beauty to be found -- is that every game is now shown nationally in its entirety" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 3/18). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "First day of the NCAA's on four networks? Fine. Make your own salad/buzzer beater. Instead of waiting for CBS to switch games, it was left to us to switch channels" (N.Y. POST, 3/18). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote under the header, "NCAA Tourney On TV Clicks Along Fine." The choice of which game to watch "now belongs to the viewer, and not to a CBS director or producer." At first view, the "top scoreboard, which had the same look on all four channels, seemed intrusive," but "after a while it seemed less so" (JSONLINE.com, 3/17). In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes the "TV suits are right" to say that "flipping to a cable channel -- or not having cable at all -- isn't that big a deal, since all the games are available online for free" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/18). In DC, Tracee Hamilton reviews the coverage under the header, "Four Channels, One Remote, A Bracket And One Tired Thumb" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/18).
Writer feels Barkley adds "much-needed edge"
to Turner's New York studio show
BREAKING DOWN THE ANALYSTS: USA TODAY's Hiestand writes Charles Barkley, "one of the Turner NBA announcers added to NCAA coverage, brought a much-needed edge to its New York studio show from the get-go." He said that it was "really unfair Clemson had a short turnaround from its Tuesday game to its tip at noon ET Thursday, it was a disgrace for Tennessee's athletics director to publicly question coach Bruce Pearl's job security on the tournament's eve, and the Big East was the most overrated league" (USA TODAY, 3/18). The NORTH COUNTY TIMES' Maffei writes while Barkley "can be a bit ridiculous at times, there is no question he's knowledgeable and entertaining" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/18). NEWSDAY's Best notes it "didn't take long for Barkley to be Barkley" on Thursday. McManus said of his performance, "I don't cringe; I listen carefully. I am prepared to perhaps cringe. But I haven't yet" (NEWSDAY, 3/18). The HOUSTON CHRONICLE's Barron writes for "all the pre-Tournament attention paid to Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith was the most effective analyst" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18). In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote, "Nothing’s better than Barkley, but the truTV halftime with Matt Winer setting up Seth Davis, Steve Smith and Tom Crean was solid. Good insight, nice pace, like they’d done it before this week" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/17). But in N.Y., Peter Vecsey writes CBS and Turner Sports took Barkley and Kenny Smith "away from the environs where they ought to have a clue but don't and put them into one where they admittedly are oblivious" (N.Y. POST, 3/18). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Bob Raissman writes CBS and Turner "need Dick Vitale," who is "college hoops' most recognizable voice" but has never called an NCAA tournament game. Raissman: "The CBS/Turner broadcast partnership should not permanently exclude Vitale" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/18).
LOSING OUT? BROADCASTING & CABLE's Michael Malone noted with CBS splitting its coverage with truTV, TNT and TBS, "viewers in several markets are having trouble finding the games." CBS' affiliate in Cincinnati, WKRC, is scheduled to air "just one first-round game involving the four teams of local interest (Xavier, U. Cincinnati, Ohio State and Kentucky)." The network had received "around 100 calls by Wednesday afternoon, with a much larger flood expected closer to tip-off for the various games." WKRC VP & GM Les Vann: "Some viewers have never heard of the Turner networks and don't understand what happened." Malone noted GMs at several CBS affiliates are "disappointed that the new contract with Turner no longer allows the so-called 'home-school rule' to exist, denying stations access to their local games of interest" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 3/17). Broadcasting & Cable’s Ben Grossman: “CBS affils are starting to hear it from viewers who can't find local team's games.” San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami: “What took longer: Louisville to score a point vs. Moorehead St or me to find the channel it's on... winner: ME! (6:22 into the game. Wow.)” (TWITTER.com, 3/17).
GETTING TO THE TRUTH: truTV averaged a 0.8 U.S. rating and 1.142 million viewers for coverage of the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday night, according to Nielsen fast-national data. Wednesday night’s doubleheader averaged a 0.7 U.S. rating and 1.014 million viewers, compared to a 0.8 rating and 1.268 million viewers for Tuesday night’s doubleheader. The UTSA-Alabama State game in the early window on Wednesday finished with a 0.5 rating and 786,000 viewers from 6:30-9:06pm ET, while the late window featuring VCU-USC earned a 0.8 rating and 1.253 million viewers. By comparison, truTV averaged 1.195 million viewers last week for its block of programming on Tuesday and Wednesday night from 6:30pm-12:00am. The net's Wednesday night block during that window last week averaged 1.179 million viewers, which consisted of eight episodes of "Operation Repo" and one episode each of "Cops" and "TruTv Presents: World's Dumbest" (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
Turner Sports added the iPad as a platform for the popular March Madness on Demand this year, delivering terrific picture quality for Thursday's early games and a bevy of fun features on the tablet device. The free iPad app downloaded and loaded without trouble, opening to the main screen highlighted by a center video console. The main page also features a scoreboard header, team and player statistics synched with the selected game and a handful of permanent on-screen advertisements. NCAA sponsors AT&T, Coca-Cola and Capital One have logo placement in the upper right corner of the screen, while a fourth rotating ad sits directly under the video. Buick and HP, among others, activated in that space. In addition to watching any game on the main page, viewers can switch to zoomed-in feed that eliminates all surrounding ads and game information, offering only the live video. The game coverage streamed well both in the smaller and larger video screens. As in past years with the MMOD computer feed, the video was behind the live TV feed (about 30 seconds on the iPad) and had a handful of hiccups when it needed to buffer. For the most part, however, CBS delivered a remarkably crisp, smooth picture on the iPad. The MMOD app does not offer the famous “Boss Button” on the iPad, but it does feature handy tie-ins to Facebook and Twitter. Users can click one button and type a post for either social media outlet, all while keeping the game video in the background. The messages posted to Twitter just as quickly as it would on the company's own website, and caused no noticeable delays in the iPad app. Meanwhile, the MMOD experience on the iPhone, greatly expanded this year from a more limited pay model last year to a free application, was very much a mixed bag in the tournament's early going. With solid, strong 3G or Wi-Fi connections, video flowed well and in near real-time. But anything less than an optimal connection quickly prompted video dropouts, lags in score updates and a general loss of fluidity within the app, not unlike a dynamic seen for other mobile distributions of live sports (Helfrich & Fisher, THE DAILY).
iWITNESS ACCOUNT: In Houston, David Barron writes, "March Madness on Demand worked smoothly for me on Comcast's broadband network, although I'm not crazy about the fact that the screen goes dark during commercials and you can't mute the sound or change to another game. The MMOD mobile application took forever to load on the iPhone but worked well (albeit 40 seconds behind the TV picture) once it loaded" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18). CNET.com's Rick Broida noted the MMOD app works for iPads, iPods and iPhones and wrote, "If you like college basketball, you need this app, plain and simple. It's free, and it's fantastic" (CNET.com, 3/17). On Twitter, Sports media blogger Ken Fang wrote, “I love the March Madness on Demand app giving me alerts when a game is close. On the web, ‘Crunch Time’ is under the score of a close game." But GMR Marketing Dir of Sports Strategy Jonathan Norman wrote, "Not liking how @MarchMadness On Demand video lags behind scoreboard at top of app. Score tells final outcome before video. Fail" (TWITTER.com, 3/17).
CBS' NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Selection Show led all sports telecasts last week with a 4.0 final Nielsen rating. That figure is down slightly from a 4.1 rating last year. CBS ended up with ratings gains for coverage of the men's conference championships last weekend. The net saw increases for the Big Ten Championship (+8.7%), Pac-10 Championship (+30.8%) and Atlantic 10 Championship (+33.3%). The net's coverage of the Conference USA Championship was flat. ABC's coverage of the SEC Championship saw a ratings drop of 30.8%. NBC saw year-over-year ratings gains for the WGC-Cadillac Championship on both Sunday (+21.1%) and Saturday (+7.7%), while the Blackhawks-Capitals telecast was flat compared to the same matchup on the same weekend last year. ABC was down for its NBA telecast last Sunday, which featured Magic-Suns. Ratings for the game were down 41.7% from the comparable Celtics-Cavaliers game last year. The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. Figures for Fox were not available at presstime (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NCAA Men's Basketball Championship
NCAA Basketball: Big Ten
Championship: Ohio State-Penn State3/13CBS3:24-5:22pm2.53,735
NCAA Basketball: SEC Championship:
NCAA Basketball: Pac-10
NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Semifinal:
Penn State-Michigan State3/12CBS4:06-6:09pm1.62,536
NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Semifinal:
NBA: Magic-Suns3/13ABC3:26-6:02pm1.42,101 WGC-Cadillac Championship:
"NBA Countdown"3/13ABC3:06-3:26pm1.4n/a NCAA Basketball: SEC Semifinal:
NCAA Basketball: SEC Semifinal:
NHL: Blackhawks-Capitals3/13NBC12:30-3:05pm0.81,241 NCAA Basketball: Atlantic-10
NCAA Basketball: Conference USA Championship: Memphis-UTEP3/12CBS11:30am-1:47pm0.81,139 "Road to the Final Four"3/13CBS12:00-1:00pm0.8n/a Sprint U.S. Snowboard GP (taped)3/12NBC1:00-2:00pm0.5669 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA: Lakers-Heat3/10TNT7:15-9:51pm3.14,844 NCAA Basketball: Big East
"Fab Five"3/13ESPN9:00-11:00pm1.82,746 NBA: Knicks-Mavericks3/10TNT9:51pm-12:25am1.62,429 NCAA Basketball: Big 12
"College Gamenight: Bracketology"3/13ESPN7:00-9:00pm1.62,340 NCAA Basketball: Big East Semifinal:
NCAA Basketball: Big East Semifinal:
NCAA Basketball: ACC
Championship: Duke-North Carolina3/13ESPN1:00-3:05pm1.42,076
HITTING THE GREEN: Golf Channel's first and second round coverage of the WGC-Cadillac Championship last Thursday and Friday averaged 1.07 million viewers for combined live and replay coverage, marking the best audience for the event's early rounds since '02, when coverage aired on USA Network (Golf Channel). Golf Channel's Erik Kuselias said TV "ratings have been unprecedentedly good so far through the first two months of the golf season," and the main reason is "they decided to go to sexier pairings or groupings" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 3/18).
NOTES: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic averaged a 2.18 local rating in the DC market for last Friday's Hurricanes-Capitals game, marking "the 15th time the Caps have hit at least 2.0 this season" through 59 broadcasts. Last season, the Capitals earned at least a 2.0 local rating "14 times in their 76 CSN broadcasts." Two seasons ago, the team's local ratings "didn't hit the 2.0 ratings mark until the playoffs" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/14)….TNT's Lakers-Heat game last Thursday earned a 3.1 U.S. rating and 4.844 million viewers, marking the third most-watched NBA game on cable this season. Through 44 telecasts, the NBA on TNT is averaging a 1.6 rating and 2.446 million viewers, up 31% and 35%, respectively, from a 1.2 rating and 1.814 million viewers at the same point last season (Turner Sports).
The N.Y. POST's Page Six wonders if ABC's Robin Roberts agreed "not to throw hardball questions at Tiger Woods" during an interview on "Good Morning America" Thursday. NBC's Jimmy Fallon "mercilessly ripped into" Woods on "Late Night" Wednesday night, but Roberts "handled Woods with kid gloves." However, an ABC official said, "There were no ground rules. We set out to talk to Tiger about where he is currently in his life, and topics we felt our audience was curious about -- from his golf game to his family life and being a divorced dad to his new golf game" (N.Y. POST, 3/18). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes after Woods "shot 66 but finished eight behind winner Nick Watney" during the final round of last weekend's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, NBC's Roger Maltbie said to Woods, "Thank you for playing well today. That always makes these things more fun and easier to do." Mushnick: "Ugh" (N.Y. POST, 3/18).
EYEING NFL DEAL: National CineMedia Chair & CEO Kurt Hall, whose company "sells in-theater advertising and distributes pre-show programming and live events," Thursday at the Gabelli & Co. Movie & Entertainment Conference indicated that he "would love to do" a deal with the NFL. Hall said that his company "can have 'more meaningful' conversations with big names like the NFL, but he didn't provide a possible time line." Hall "cited success with last year's offer of soccer World Cup games." He also "predicted it will take viewing without 3D glasses to make 3D TV take off, and that could be five to 10 years away" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 3/17).
WE'RE GOING STREAMING: DIGITALSPY.com's Andrew Laughlin reports ESPN "has announced the launch of a new live streaming service providing post-match coverage of football matches in England and Scotland." The service, called ESPN Extra Time, "will immediately follow TV coverage of all ESPN's live matches from the Premier League, FA Cup and Scottish Premier League" (DIGITALSPY.com, 3/18).