SBD/October 24, 2011/Media

CBS Works Trade With ESPN To Move Heavily Anticipated LSU-Alabama Matchup To Primetime

LSU-Alabama will be the second primetime SEC matchup CBS airs this season
CBS is moving the Nov. 5 LSU-Alabama game, which pits the top two teams in the BCS standings, into primetime in what "might be the most offbeat network maneuvering since ESPN sent Al Michaels to NBC in a 2006 deal that involved trading an old Walt Disney cartoon character back to Disney," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. CBS' SEC deal "allows it to air one SEC game each season in prime time," and the Oct. 1 Alabama-Florida game was "picked well before the season" began. The net was able to move LSU-Alabama from its previously scheduled 3:30pm ET time slot through what CBS Sports Exec VP/Programming Mike Aresco "says was a trade with ESPN, which has an SEC primetime TV deal." ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys said, "What we got in return was future scheduling considerations for next season." Hiestand notes at that point, it was time to "enter NBC's Versus cable channel." With CBS "wanting to air football action in its regular Nov. 5 afternoon time slot, it landed Army-Air Force from Versus." In return, Versus "gets Colorado State-TCU on Nov. 19 from the CBS Sports Network cable channel" (USA TODAY, 10/24). Bloomberg News' Michele Steele wrote on her Twitter feed, "CBS betting on big #s by moving no. 1 LSU-No 2 Alabama to primetime at 8p and streaming it live online.. Exp heavy promotion ahead of nov 5." Sporting News' Ryan Fagan wrote, "Least surprising announcement ever?" SI's Jim Trotter wrote, "lsu-alabama moved to primetime. wondering if @markmravic will allow me to staff that game as a reward for sitting through broncos-dolphins."

LOOKING FORWARD TO NO. 1 VS. NO. 2: CBS led all college football weekend overnights with a 3.5 overnight for Auburn-LSU in the 3:30pm ET window, but the rating was down 26% compared to the same matchup last year. On the ESPN family of networks, ESPN2's Tennessee-Alabama on Saturday night actually topped all games with a 2.5 overnight. ABC earned a 2.2 overnight for regional action in its "Saturday Night Football" broadcast, which featured coverage of Washington-Stanford and Texas Tech-Oklahoma, while ESPN's primetime window earned a 2.1 overnight for Michigan State's last-second victory over Wisconsin (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

THE CAMERA NEVER LIES: USC's 31-17 win over Notre Dame in the first night game in South Bend in 21 years earned a 2.6 overnight rating for NBC (Karp). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes NBC deserves "applause" for its coverage of USC-Notre Dame. The camera work during the fourth quarter was "outstanding and gave viewers definitive shots of two crucial plays in the Trojans' 31-17 victory." The first was "what initially appeared to be an incompletion that, NBC's replays showed, was clearly a backward pass." Moments later, USC scored on a pass "that might have been a ball trapped on the ground." The replays, however, "showed it was a good catch and a touchdown" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/24).

SCHEDULING CONFLICT: In Charlotte, Mark Washburn noted this season, ACC football games on WBTV-CBS "have been pushed back to a 12:30 p.m. start to accommodate a new highlights show, 'ACC Blitz,' starting at noon." That means the game "usually bleeds deep into the 3:30 p.m. SEC games." WBTV Programming Dir Shelly Hill said, "We've been getting lots of complaints." WBTV on Saturday "planned to show both games on a split screen, using audio from the most interesting one." But CBS "didn't like the idea and quashed it." As a result, WBTV planned to try picking up the LSU-Auburn game at 3:30pm "on its digital channel, 3.2" until the Wake Forest-Duke game ended (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/22).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S TRUE MASCOT: Saturday's episode of ESPN's "College GameDay" marked the 200th time analyst Lee Corso has put on a mascot head to predict the winner of a game, and ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi noted the “true kickoff -- respectfully -- to a college football Saturday doesn’t happen in a stadium, it doesn’t happen on a field. It happens on a coach’s head.” "GameDay" co-host Desmond Howard said, “There’s something strange about a crowd waiting for a grown man to put on a mascot’s head.” Corso has used guns before as props to go along with the headgear choice, and Howard said, “It’s never a good idea to put an elderly gentleman in a position where he’s holding a gun.” "GameDay" Coordinating Producer Lee Fitting: “One gun wasn’t enough. It was two guns so he wanted to go double-barreled and two guns. You get a little nervous. Like I always ask him, ‘The guns aren’t loaded, right coach?’” (“College GameDay,” ESPN, 10/22).
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