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CBS this weekend will feature a three-man booth for the first time in its coverage of the Final Four, which "helps stamp a new brand for the new partnership" between CBS and Turner Sports for the tournament, according to Bob Wolfley of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr will call the Final Four and Monday's championship game, and Saturday's VCU-Butler Final Four opener will mark "only the fifth time the three announcers have worked a game together." Nantz had "not worked a three-man booth" before this season. But after working with Kellogg and Kerr during the Big 10 Tournament and two First Four games, he said, "I felt really good about how it worked from the get-go. It's going to get better this weekend because the games we were doing we had more of a big picture slant to our coverage." Kerr said that he "felt welcomed in his three-man role." Kellogg added, "It adds another perspective. It certainly causes me to look at things, talk about things differently because something Steve might say" (JSONLINE.com, 3/31). Kellogg has worked the last two Final Fours with Nantz, and when asked if he took the decision to add Kerr "as a criticism" on the job he has done, he said, "Not at all. Our thing is about serving the viewers. We have a partnership with Turner and that was something both parties agreed would benefit the broadcast, and I am 100 percent for it if you can add another quality person who sees the game a little bit differently. It was fun, I've enjoyed the few games we've done already" (N.Y. POST, 4/1).
CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM: CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that "having two low-seeded teams in the Final Four" in Butler and VCU "won't necessarily mean a poor rating." McManus: "I think it's all going to come down to how close the games are. I'm not going to say we're going to do a bad rating because we have two teams from a mid-major" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 4/1). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes "based on viewer response to the tight David vs. Goliath/Duke vs. Butler final a year ago, CBS should expect continued ratings increases in both Saturday's Final Four and Monday's championship game" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/1).
PREGAME ENTERTAINMENT: In Houston, David Barron notes the pregame and between-game features that will run during Saturday's coverage will include profiles of Butler F Matt Howard, Connecticut G Kemba Walker, Kentucky's "rebuilding mode after five players were selected in the first round of the NBA draft, the recent on- and off-court ventures of Virginia Commonwealth and coach Shaka Smart, a tribute to John Wooden and David Letterman discussing the Tournament with Bill Raftery" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/1). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Saturday's Kentucky-UConn game will feature "two elephants in the room" in Kentucky coach John Calipari and UConn coach Jim Calhoun, "two whose programs' misdeeds likely will be quickly and obligatorily mentioned, then just as quickly dropped." CBS will not be "inclined to make a big issue of it." Mushnick: "You know TV. We're likely to be told that the issues have, by now, been 'well-documented'" (N.Y. POST, 4/1).
ANALYST REVIEW: THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre wrote Kerr has been "very good as an analyst" thus far during the tournament, as he "sounded like someone who had done his work on college basketball." Fellow TNT NBA analyst Reggie Miller "did a terrific job calling out referees," but otherwise "left something to be desired." Miller "struggled at times getting along with his counterparts in the three man booth." Meanwhile, CBS analyst Greg Anthony "provided the most insight" out of the studio team of himself and TNT NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. McIntyre: "I enjoyed the time he called out Kenny Smith for flip-flopping." Smith's observations were "mundane and obvious and he never got the back-and-forth magic going with Barkley that they have" on TNT's "Inside The NBA." Barkley also "wasn't nearly as effectively as effective as he is on TNT." Barkley either was "sternly told by the CBS suits to clean up his act, or he felt bad going after players/coaches," because he was "pretty light on the criticism" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 3/29).
In their latest contribution to ESPN.com for the Poynter Review Project, McBride & McCombs wrote Detroit's WDIV-NBC breaking the story of Jalen Rose's alleged DUI, and not ESPN, looks bad "on the journalism front, with the perception that ESPN is willing to report on the failings of current athletes but sweeps the failings of its own staff under the rug." Rose, an NBA analyst for ESPN, "apparently didn’t tell anyone at the network about his run-in with the police for almost three weeks." ESPN encourages its talent to "tell their bosses about potentially embarrassing personal issues that might become public," but no written policy "explicitly requires them to come forward." ESPN officials said that they "learned about Rose's arrest" when his agent called Senior VP/Talent Development & Planning Laurie Orlando Tuesday afternoon as WDIV was "preparing to air the story and publish it on its site." ESPN.com posted news of Rose's DUI around 8:45pm ET that night, nearly three hours after WDIV first reported the incident. McBride & McCombs noted a "number of fans have already questioned ESPN’s loyalties on this issue in letters to the Poynter Project mailbag." It was "obviously a story ESPN should have reported first," but until there is "clarity in contracts and policies, this likely will happen again, given the number of on-air and online talent that ESPN employs." McBride & McCombs added, "In addition to creating policy, ESPN’s response to Rose’s concealment of the DUI citation will go a long way in communicating to other ESPN personalities what the network’s expectations really are" (ESPN.com, 3/31).
ROSE EXPLAINS THE INCIDENT: Rose in a statement released Wednesday said that "his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit" last month "when his car went off an icy Detroit-area road and he was issued a citation for drunken driving." Rose said, "I regret the decision to drive home that evening and am grateful that no one was hurt in the accident. I apologize to my family, my employer and each and every one of my supporters for my lapse in judgment. ... I accept full responsibility for my actions and look forward to a resolution of the legal matter as soon as possible" (ESPN.com, 3/30).
BANNER QUARTER: ESPN announced that the network had its best ratings and viewership numbers ever for the quarter ending March 28, according to Nielsen. ESPN also set record highs for its 24-hour rating each of the months in Q1. ESPN averaged a 0.9 rating, representing an average of 1,076,000 viewers, up 17% from the previous record set last year. The net averaged a record 854,000 HHs, up 14% from last year's previous best. ESPN attributes the boosts to the addition of the BCS and larger audiences for the NBA (ESPN).
Viewers who tune in for the premiere of the Showtime-produced "Fight Camp 360: Pacquiao vs. Mosley" show, which debuts on CBS at noon ET Saturday, will get a glimpse behind the scenes of the early promotion of the fight. Much of the footage from the 30-minute show is dedicated to following the fighters through appearances made soon after the bout was announced earlier this year. The episode -- titled "The Hype" -- starts with an artfully shot look at Manny Pacquiao amid his massive following in the Philippines, set to the tune "Welcome to My World." From there, it goes stateside, following Pacquiao and Shane Mosley through a photo shoot and media tour stops in N.Y., L.A. and Las Vegas, as well as Pacquiao's February trip to DC with wife Jinkee to meet President Obama. Along with stunning footage from training camp and interviews that will acquaint the uninitiated with both fighters, there are a few revealing views from behind the scenes, most of which can be summed up in four words: "Manny Pacquiao runs late." This often adds up to frustration for those promoting the fight. Those in PR should watch for publicist Fred Sternburg, who is charged with the unenviable task of guiding Pacquiao through his promotional docket. "We are doing what we normally do with Manny: waiting," Sternburg says as they wait for Pacquiao at a photo shoot. "You've got Eastern time. Pacific time. This is Pacquiao time." Based on the teases for the second episode, which breaks on Showtime on April 23, it will be a recurring theme.
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RATING NCAA Tournament: Regional Semifinal: North Carolina-Marquette3/25CBS7:15-9:30pm5.5 NCAA Tournament: Regional Semifinal: Ohio State-Kentucky3/25CBS9:45pm-12:00am8.4 "ESPN Sports Saturday"3/26ABC4:00-6:00pm0.4 NCAA Tournament: Regional Final: Butler-Florida3/26CBS7:06-9:27pm5.8 NCAA Tournament: Regional Final: Arizona-Connecticut3/26CBS4:20-7:06pm6.6 PGA Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational: Third Round3/26NBC2:30-6:00pm1.8 Izod IndyCar Series: Honda GP of St. Petersburg3/27ABC12:30-3:15pm1.2 "Geico Presents: The Best of College Basketball"3/27CBS1:00-2:00pm1.1 NCAA Tournament: Regional Final: Kansas-VCU3/27CBS5:00-7:15pm6.5 NCAA Tournament: Regional Final: Kentucky-North Carolina3/27CBS2:15-4:45pm8.9 NASCAR Sprint Cup: Auto Club 4003/27Fox3:30-6:00pm4.6 Golf Digest Equipment Special (taped)3/27NBC1:30-2:30pm0.3 PGA Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational: Final Round3/27NBC2:30-6:15pm1.9
NOTES: SportSouth is averaging 11,824 HHs for Bobcats games this season, up 24% from 9,528 HHs at the same point last season (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/31).