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CBS earned a 4.4 overnight Nielsen rating for its NCAA men's basketball selection show yesterday, down 8.3% from a 4.8 overnight last year. The telecast also earned a 4.8 overnight in '09 (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy writes CBS studio host Greg Gumbel and analyst Seth Davis did "good work" when they questioned Ohio State Univ. AD and selection committee Chair Gene Smith "about his two-game suspension" of OSU football coach Jim Tressel. McCarthy: "Rather than just asking … about March Madness, they asked about the punishment." However, one "frustration for a few CBS viewers" during the telecast was that "team seeds appeared to be cut off on some older, standard-definition TV sets as the field was announced." CBS Sports VP/Communications Jennifer Sabatelle said that the net "received no complaints." Meanwhile, McCarthy writes while CBS and Turner's analysts were "more subdued" while discussing teams that did not make the field during the selection show, there was "no such restraint at ESPN." The net's analysts "called some of the picks laughable and mocked the selection committee." ESPN analyst Jay Bilas: "I wonder if some people on the committee know whether the ball is round" (USA TODAY, 3/14). In Houston, David Barron writes ESPN's "panel of yakkers did everything but roll in the dirt, howl at the moon and don sackcloth and ashes to bemoan the piteous injustice done to Colorado and Virginia Tech for failing to make the 68-team Tournament" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/14).
FINAL COUNTDOWN: CBS announcer Jim Nantz last week said that he "will let partner Clark Kellogg call the game's final seconds if Kellogg's alma mater," Ohio State, "claims the national title on April 4 in Houston." Kellogg "played for Ohio State and was the Buckeyes' Most Valuable Player in his final season in 1982." Nantz said, "It just dawned on me. If his alma mater is on the way to winning the championship and the guard is out at midcourt dribbling, waiting to hoist the ball up in the air and suddenly a celebration unfolds on the court, I'm going to step aside and say, 'Clark, take us to zero'" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/13).
BBC execs have identified "abandoning coverage" of F1 and Wimbledon as "one way of saving money to help the broadcaster contend with the frozen licence fee settlement" announced in October, according to Brown & Plunkett of the GUARDIAN. Network officials have broached the topic of eliminating the US$64M-a-year F1 deal and its long-running Wimbledon coverage as ways the BBC could achieve a US$967M "annual saving targeted for 2014." F1 has been on ITV as recently as '08, but "is not seen as a mainstay of the BBC calendar." Dropping Wimbledon, though, "would be a controversial move," as it is "seen as a quintessentially BBC event." The BBC has aired the event since '37, though the "exact cost of the rights is barely known outside a handful of people." It "would not be easy for the BBC to make a quick move to drop either sport," as both deals run through '14. The BBC spends about US$480M a year on sports coverage. That spend would need to be cut by an estimated US$97M for the net to decrease its budgets 20% by '14. However, it is "understood that the BBC would strive to protect football coverage" (GUARDIAN, 3/12).
Sports leagues, networks and technology companies are “finding novel ways to take apart games -- showing only the most exciting bits or helping viewers focus on a single player or statistic,” and it “may be changing the way we watch sports, or even why we watch,” according to Joshua Brustein in the N.Y. TIMES’ “Week in Review” section. California-based tech company Thuuz is “developing a computer program that it says can tell fans when to begin watching" a game. Thuuz “analyzes live feeds of play-by-play statistics, measuring factors like the pace of the game, the closeness of the score and other factors.” It then rates “games on a 100-point scale, and allows users to sign up to receive alerts whenever their personal threshold for excitement is reached.” Thuuz incorporates team loyalty and “is developing ways to identify unusual events that do not necessarily show up on the scoreboard.” Brustein noted the “trick is to predict when a game will be worth watching for the next five minutes.” Meanwhile, the Jets are in partnership with N.Y.-based Pre Play Sports, a technology startup that “designed a game for mobile phones that awards points to fans for predicting the outcome of each play as they watch the game, with more points given for unlikely predictions.” Company officials said that the average Pre Play Sports player spends 40 minutes with the app, “a monumental period of time by smartphone standards” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/13).
MLBAM has signed a two-year partnership with the Int'l Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences to support live streaming of the annual Webby Awards. The Webbys are considered among the pre-eminent awards in digital media, and the MLBAM partnership will feature live streaming with a variety of social media and interactive features, including the ability to participate in the awards ceremony itself as it is happening, and a series of custom-developed smartphone and tablet applications. For MLBAM, the deal adds to a growing body of outside clients for live online video streaming, including ESPN3.com, CBS Sports and Turner Sports. Nominees for the 15th annual Webby Awards will be announced next month, with the awards ceremony scheduled for June 13 in N.Y. The ceremony itself is famous for its rule mandating five-word acceptance speeches.