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CBS earned a 10.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round of The Masters yesterday from 2:00-7:15pm ET, which saw Charl Schwartzel win his first major championship by two shots over Jason Day and Adam Scott. The 10.4 overnight is down 13.3% from a 12.0 rating for the final round last year, which saw Phil Mickelson win his third green jacket, but up 18.2% from Angel Cabrera's playoff win in '09. Yesterday's round peaked at a 12.6 rating from 6:30-7:00pm. This year's final round is also up slightly from a 10.3 overnight in '05, which was the last time Tiger Woods won the event, and marks the second-best final-round overnight since '01 (12.9 overnight). Saturday's coverage on the net averaged a 6.8 overnight, down 10.5% from a 7.6 rating last year, but the second-highest Masters Saturday overnight in nine years. CBSSports.com also saw 33% more online traffic for its "Masters Live" this year, according to data from Akamai. The growth this year was fueled by Sunday's coverage, which saw year-over-year traffic rise 112%. Time spent viewing "Masters Live" this year was also at 72 minutes per person.OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS TREND
FOR FINAL ROUND OF THE MASTERS ON CBSYEAROVERNIGHT
WINNER'1110.4 Charl Schwartzel'1012.0 Phil Mickelson'098.8 Angel Cabrera'088.9 Trevor Immelman'079.1 Zach Johnson'069.0 Phil Mickelson'0510.3 Tiger Woods'047.3 Phil Mickelson'039.3 Mike Weir'029.9 Tiger Woods
EARLY ROUNDS: ESPN averaged a 2.2 U.S. rating and 3.025 million viewers for its coverage of the early rounds of The Masters this year, down 29% and 32%, respectively, from a a 3.1 rating and 4.433 million viewers last year, which featured Tiger Woods' return to competitive golf. ESPN averaged 3.5 million viewers for Friday's telecast of The Masters from 3:00-7:30pm, down 10.5% from 3.9 million viewers last year. Thursday's coverage averaged 2.6 million viewers, down 48.3% from 4.9 million viewers last year. In the four years that ESPN has now televised the early rounds of The Masters, the net's two-day ratings average has been higher than each of the four prior years ('04-07) on USA Network (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
STARS ALIGN: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes "everything broke CBS' way almost from the time it went on air Sunday and the leaderboard theatrically tightened." CBS faced the issue of getting "plenty of airtime for golf's biggest name without seeming like it was being gratuitous in focusing too much on Tiger Woods," but Woods "quickly played his way into becoming a legitimate focus for lavish coverage." CBS "didn't need much star power given Sunday's many spectacular shots." And the network "having to switch from shot to shot to keep track of the many contenders, which producer Lance Barrow did masterfully, had an unseen side benefit." Hiestand: "Mercifully, it left no time for CBS to be distracted and, say, start paying tributes to Augusta's azaleas." Meanwhile, third-round leader Rory McIlroy's "epic slide Sunday also created a glitch in CBS' coverage." Viewers "were left guessing what happened to his tee shot on the 10th hole to leave it sitting between two cabins," as CBS "didn't make McIlroy's chaotic ride to a triple-bogey on that hole ... very easy to follow" (USA TODAY, 4/11). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo and the CBS Sports research department "performed well in providing needed background information on relatively unknown golfers, including surprising champion Charl Schwartzel" (DENVER POST, 4/11).
ALL TIGER, ALL THE TIME: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes The Masters "used to be televised by CBS as one of golf's majors, as special ... until Tiger Woods." Mushnick: "Follow the leaders, show a few shots from old and recent champs, but no one's bigger than the Masters or the game. ... Saturday, the Masters became just another tournament in which Tiger Woods, plus some other guys, played." Mushnick notes the "most live video, Saturday, was devoted to Woods," the "most taped video was devoted to Woods" and the "most talk was devoted to Woods." Mushnick: "We didn't see wonder kid Rory McIlroy, who was seven shots ahead of Woods going into the final round, lining up putts. But we saw Woods slowly line up putt after putt, often from both sides of the hole -- a colossal, aggravating waste of time for those who tuned to the Masters to watch the Masters" (N.Y. POST, 4/11). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes, "How obnoxious was it to hear CBS's Masters team making excuses for Tiger Woods when he three-putted to bogey No. 12? The announcers actually tried to pin the blame on Woods' playing partner, Martin Laird, because Woods had to wait while Laird three-putted." The "only thing more obnoxious was listening to Woods give one-sentence answers to the questions he was asked by CBS's Bill Macatee after his round Sunday" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/11).
Woods' short post-round interview on
Sunday did not help repair his image
KEEP IT POSITIVE: In Houston, David Barron wrote of CBS' coverage yesterday, "The nature of the Masters broadcast is unusually upbeat about every golfer's performance. I don't know if they lean more toward encouraging words because it's the Masters, but you don't hear the sharp criticism that you generally hear on other golf broadcasts on other networks. If NBC had been doing this event, for example, I can guarantee you that Johnny Miller would have said that Rory McIlroy choked. Instead, we had Peter Kostis giving him a pep talk in his post-match interview and the announcers bemoaning his lack of experience and the tough place in which he found himself Sunday and how he'll surely bounce back and be better for the experience." Barron wrote he "enjoyed" CBS announcer Verne Lundquist's coverage at the 16th hole, and he also enjoyed "listening to Nick Faldo talk about the day's developments" (CHRON.com, 4/10). The ST. PETE TIMES' Jones writes, "It's almost as if everything about CBS's coverage is to convince you that what you're watching is really good instead of just letting the viewer watch and then judge for himself. Too many times Sunday, we heard phrases such as, 'What a day this is.' ... Give me NBC's golf coverage any day over CBS" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/11).
REPORTER DENIED ACCESS: On Long Island, Mark Herrmann reports Bergen Record columnist Tara Sullivan yesterday was "denied access to the players' locker room after the final round of the Masters, having been told by a female security guard that women are not allowed in." Augusta National Dir of Communications Steve Ethun later "apologized to Sullivan and told reporters that it had been a mistake by a security guard contracted" by Augusta National. The locker room is "open to credentialed journalists" (NEWSDAY, 4/11). Sullivan offers her side of the story, writing, "After tweeting about my unfortunate interview experience at Augusta National golf course ... my journalism world exploded." Sullivan added, "I decided to write my main column on McIlroy's stunning collapse on Masters Sunday, so as he made his way out of the scorer's hut on the 18th green, I joined the group of reporters waiting to interview him in a roped off area. ... I followed McIlroy to the famous oak tree outside the clubhouse, a spot where golfers often stop to do more interviews. McIlroy kept walking, and so did the group of reporters I was with. We walked into the clubhouse and followed as McIlroy made his way to the locker room. At the final portion of the hallway, the one that ended at the locker room door, I was told by a female security officer that I was not allowed in. That was it. ... I asked the security woman again why they had such a policy, and she told me it was because there was an open bathroom area in the locker room" (Bergen RECORD, 4/11).
There are "big changes coming" at NHL Network for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, according to Craig Custance of the SPORTING NEWS. The station's "NHL Live" show is moving from its current 12:00-2:00pm ET time slot to 4:00-6:00pm, and it "will serve as a live preview show of all the NHL playoff games each night." Current NHL players, "whose teams aren't in the playoffs, will be used as analysts" by the net, and there will be "more live spots from the arenas, using local reporters, NHL.com writers or the players themselves to stay on top of news." There also will be "upgrades in graphics," and "all available post-game press conferences" will be shown after the games. Custance noted NHL Network U.S. Exec Producer Mark Preisler was hired in January from ESPN, and viewers "will see his influence in full force" in the changes. He said that his "immediate goal is to improve" the net's "NHL on the Fly" show, which "means more access to the players, including post-game appearances and phone interviews." Custance: "It also means better, sharper analysis. And yes, eventually breaking more news" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/8). Preisler said as a result of the changes, "The network will now be live from 4 p.m. until whenever the last game of the night finishes." SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Fred Dreier reports "NHL Live" part-time hosts Deb Placey and E.J. Hradek "will become the show's permanent on-air talent" as part of the transition. The show "will continue to feature current and retired NHL players to discuss action from around the league," and it will "receive a major bump in infrastructure, including a new temporary set and revamped graphics package." The NHL "will design a permanent set for the show at the NHL Store in mid-town Manhattan for the 2011-12 season" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/11 issue).
NCAA member universities "will no longer be permitted to subscribe to recruiting sites like Rivals.com and Scout.com after the NCAA designated the athletic websites as a scouting service," according to Mel Bracht of the DAILY OKLAHOMAN. The NCAA reportedly ruled that "institutions can no longer subscribe to Rivals.com and its affiliated sites, which focus primarily on college football and basketball reporting." The rationale is that Rivals "provides video of nonscholastic competition that is not available to the general public." An NCAA spokesperson said, "All recruiting/scouting services are held to the same legislated standard and we consider Rivals.com to be a recruiting/scouting service." A Rivals spokesperson said that the company "is in discussion with the NCAA on the issue" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 4/9). CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer reported, "Every single school just had to report a secondary violation 'if they were or ever have been subscribed' to Rivals" (TWITTER.com, 4/8). In Birmingham, Jon Solomon noted the recruiting services now banned "could seemingly become kosher by making all of their video free," but if Rivals "goes that route, how would that impact its business model?" This mandate shows the NCAA "has quickly defined 'scouting services' in its attempt to cut out street agents who use them as a front for under-the-table deals." Solomon added, "The interpretation also feels like the NCAA is fed up with web-based recruiting services that technically could fit the new definition of scouting services" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 4/9).
247Sports.com has signed a content and sales partnership with the Omaha World-Herald, its fourth newspaper alliance, in which the World-Herald will become part of the startup's network of team affinity sites. Similar to prior deals with the Austin American-Statesman, Knoxville News Sentinel and Landmark Community Newspapers, 247Sports.com and the World-Herald will combine resources on HuskersIllustrated.com, a multimedia outlet for coverage of Univ. of Nebraska sports and recruiting. HuskersIllustrated.com will feature news, photos, videos, a recruiting database, message board and other content. Much like other sites in the 247Sports.com network, HuskersIllustrated will blend free content, subscription material that carries a top price of $107.40 per year and advertising revenue.
In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes Sun Sports did a "nice job" in addressing Rays DH Manny Ramirez' retirement from baseball in lieu of serving a 100-game suspension "straight on." Prior to Friday's game against the White Sox, there were "interviews with key players Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton, as well as Rays manager Joe Maddon." It "would have been nice if game announcers Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson had talked in greater detail about the situation, but at least the topic wasn't ignored" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/11).
DISPUTING DIBBLE'S STORY: In DC, Adam Kilgore noted former Nationals TV analyst Rob Dibble last week "re-opened the controversy surrounding his dismissal from MASN, claiming an email from Stephen Strasburg's father to members of the Lerner family caused the Nationals to fire him." But a day after Strasburg "denied the claim on Twitter," former Nationals President Stan Kasten Friday "blasted and discredited Dibble's account." Kasten: "Neither Stephen nor his father had anything to do with this decision. Rob's account is both fictional and, really, quite sad" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/8).
MISSING ACTION: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar noted a "financial dispute between Fox Sports Midwest and AT&T U-Verse and others is threatening to keep up to 20 Cardinals games off those TV programming outlets." FSM is "in the first year of its deal with the Cardinals to be the sole provider of the team's locally produced telecasts, adding the 20 games that had been the property of" KSDK-NBC and "charging carriers extra for those games." FSM Friday said that "unless a settlement is reached, the affected blackout schedule" would have begun with yesterday's game against the Giants. Tonight's and tomorrow's games against the D'Backs also are "to be withheld" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/9).
PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: In Indianapolis, Mike Wells noted Pacers radio analyst Bob Leonard returned for Friday's game against the Hawks "after being out for almost four weeks following a heart attack." Leonard "suffered the heart attack on the team bus" after the March 13 Pacers-Knicks game. Leonard is "returning in time to be part of the Pacers' first playoff appearance in five years" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/9)....In Cleveland, Terry Pluto noted the Cavaliers before Friday's game against the Bulls honored retiring radio announcer Joe Tait "by placing his banner" next to Cavaliers players "who have had their numbers retired." Tait "received a long standing ovation" and "waved to the crowd." Tait's final game will be the Cavaliers' season finale against the Wizards on Wednesday, "only the fifth game for Tait this season, as he recovered from major heart surgery" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/9).