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The first full day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Thursday averaged a 5.6 overnight Nielsen rating across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, down slightly from a 5.7 overnight last year. The 5.6 rating marks the second-best opening Thursday overnight since the tournament expanded to four windows in ’91. The early primetime window averaged a 6.8 overnight, up from a 6.5 rating last year and marking the best for that window since ’02. Also seeing a gain was the late afternoon window, which averaged a 5.2 overnight, up from a 5.1 last year. Seeing a slight decline was the late primetime window (6.8 vs. 6.9 overnight), while the early afternoon window averaged a 3.9 rating, down from a 4.4 last year.OVERNIGHT RATINGS FOR OPENING THURSDAY OF MEN'S NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
WINDOW (ET)'12'111-YR % +/-'10 (CBS ONLY)2-YR % +/- Early afternoon3.94.4-11.4%3.125.8% Late afternoon220.127.116.11%3.548.6% Early primetime18.104.22.168%6.013.3% Late primetime6.86.9-1.4%6.111.5% OVERALL5.65.7-1.8%4.621.7%
TOP GAMES: CBS’ telecast of VCU-Wichita State led all games yesterday with a 3.1 overnight from 7:00-9:30pm ET, down from a 3.5 overnight for BYU-Wofford last year, which aired in the same window and topped all Thursday games. TBS' top games were Kentucky-Western Kentucky in the early primetime window and Iowa State-UConn in the late primetime window, with both telecasts earning a 1.6 overnight. Those figures are up from the net’s Florida-UC Santa Barbara and UCLA-Michigan State matchups last year. Syracuse-UNC Asheville topped all truTV telecasts with a 1.5 overnight. The net did not average over a 1.0 rating for any Thursday game last year. Ohio State-Loyola led TNT’s games with a 1.3 rating in the late primetime window, up from a 1.2 for Missouri-Cincinnati last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).GAME-BY-GAME OVERNIGHTS FOR OPENING THURSDAY
OF NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
START '12 MATCHUPRAT. '11 MATCHUPRAT.% +/-CBS Early noon Murray State-Colorado State2.1 West Virginia-Clemson2.2-4.5% Late noon Marquette-BYU1.9 Kentucky-Princeton2.5-24.0% Early prime VCU-Wichita State3.1 BYU-Wofford3.5-11.4% Late prime Indiana-New Mexico State2.8 Gonzaga-St. John's3.1-9.7%truTV Early noon Kansas State-Southern Miss0.6 Butler-Old Dominion0.60.0% Late noon Syracuse-UNC Asheville1.5 Pittsburgh-UNC Asheville0.5200.0% Early prime Baylor-South Dakota State1.0 Wisconsin-Belmont0.911.1% Late prime Colorado-UNLV1.0 Kansas State-Utah State0.825.0%TBS Early noon Louisville-Davidson0.7 Morehead State-Louisville0.9-22.2% Late noon New Mexico-
Long Beach State1.1
Richmond-Vanderbilt1.10.0% Early prime Kentucky-Western Kentucky1.6 Florida-UC Santa Barbara1.060.0% Late prime Iowa State-UConn1.6 UCLA-Michigan State1.8-11.1%TNT Early noon Wisconsin-Montana0.5 Temple-Penn State0.7-28.6% Late noon Vanderbilt-Harvard1.1 San Diego State-
Early prime Gonzaga-West Virginia1.1 UConn-Bucknell1.10.0% Late prime Ohio State-Loyola1.3 Cincinnati-Missouri1.28.3%
REVIEWING THE NEW ADDITIONS: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote watching the tournament on Thursday with all games being televised nationally is a reminder this is the "way it should have been presented all along." Wolfley noted CBS and Turner enhanced their graphics package this year, "adding indicators on the bottom score line to show whether a team is in the bonus or double bonus," and that is "useful." But another "enhancement seems superfluous." When a game on another channel is close "with little time remaining, its logo along the upper line starts flashing." Wolfley wrote it "felt gadget-y." Meanwhile, it appears Turner's Charles Barkley "has done a little more homework and was more prepared to talk about teams in the tournament than he was last year, when it felt as though he was making it up as he went along." But it is "obvious on that set Greg Anthony knows the most about the teams and hence the one most worthy of a listen" (JSOLINE.com, 3/15). The Seattle Times’ Percy Allen wrote on his Twitter feed, “Is it just me or is Charles Barkley 10x better this year? Breaking out stats, tidbits. Wasn't ready for all that. Go ahead big fella” (TWITTER.com, 3/15).
NO GUS, NO GLORY: Gus Johnson's absence from the broadcast booth for the tournament this year was being felt on Twitter Thursday. SB Nation’s Jeff Gluck wrote, “I just don't know if these NCAA Tournament games will be the same without Gus Johnson. Kinda bummed about that.” The AP’s Tim Reynolds wrote, “Could Gus Johnson call my house and just announce the end of VCU-Wichita over the phone, please?” Georgia Tech radio announcer Wes Durham wrote, “This is the time in previous tourneys that it would be time to have the 'Gus Alert' for VCU-Wichita. Sadly not this year...” Freelance writer Chris Vannini wrote, “I miss Gus. Couple games could have really used him.” Awful Announcing wrote, “The first day of the tournament isn't the same without Gus Johnson.” SB Nation’s Bomani Jones wrote, “you know a lot about basketball? that's nice. but...are you making the game fun? cuz raftery, gus and others do. love that.” The L.A. Times’ Diane Pucin wrote, “Miss Gus Johson, but appreciate addition of Charles Barkley lot.”
WELCOME TO THE COVERAGE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes NCAA National Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officiating John Adams will be "on standby throughout tournament coverage." He "started on the hot seat Thursday, evaluating replays of two late-game calls in No. 16 seed North Carolina-Asheville's near-upset of top seed Syracuse" (USA TODAY, 3/16). Meanwhile, Turner and CBS have added Villanova men's basketball coach Jay Wright and St. John's men's basketball coach Steve Lavin as guest studio analysts. Wright will appear on truTV's "Inside March Madness presented by Buick" to wrap up each day's games at 12:30am ET. Lavin will serve as a guest analyst in the N.Y. studio for third round coverage on Saturday and Sunday (Turner).
ONE TAKE ON MARCH MADNESS LIVE: SportsBusiness Journal Staff Writer Tripp Mickle writes about his frustration trying to access March Madness Live Thursday by authenticating his cable account. His struggle mirrored some of the challenges that many people faced when they tried to watch NCAA tournament games live under Turner and CBS’ new system.
FORCING TV? In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes truTV's coverage of the First Four on Tuesday turned out to be a "CBS/Turner home shopping network." Mushnick: "There were Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith engaged in forced, superficial basketball debate and discussion. ... Next up: Why, what’s this? Oh, it’s a Tweet from new CBS hire Jim Rome!" Returning from a commercial break, studio host Ernie Johnson "directed us to a website where we could discover how CNN news anchors Wolf Blitzer and John King filled in their brackets." Mushnick: "Why should we care? Because CNN is a Turner network, that’s why" (N.Y. POST, 3/16).
The Padres’ first scheduled telecast on the new FS San Diego is Saturday, but “no one could say Thursday whether anyone would actually be able to watch the game,” according to Bill Center of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The network will produce a telecast, but it cannot formally announce its plans because its 20-year, $1B contract with the Padres “hasn’t been officially approved by Major League Baseball.” FS San Diego has distribution deals in place with DirecTV and Cox Cable, and while DirecTV “definitely plans to show the game and Cox might, it’s possible subscribers of both carriers could be left in the dark due to questions surrounding the lack of MLB approval.” A source said that Fox “expects the game will be available to Cox and DirecTV.” However, Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-Verse do not have carriage deals with the net. That means more than 20% of the 1.1 million HHs in San Diego County are “without access to FSSD.” One of the reasons the Padres ended their deal with Cox “was a desire to get more games out to more fans,” as Cox “never provided the signal to satellite distributors” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/16).
AN UPHILL BATTLE: CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman noted Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad's "withdrawn application to gain controlling ownership of the Padres isn't merely a formality." Moorad does not have the "votes of other owners, and there is no sign of him getting them soon." A source called Moorad's "attempt at ownership an 'uphill battle.''' Under his contract with Padres Chair John Moores, Moorad will "remain the Padres' CEO and has two years to try to gain the votes." Upon withdrawing the ownership application last week, Moorad cited the need to "focus on the television contract'' with Fox Sports (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/15).
ESPN averaged 2.04 million viewers for the premiere of "The Announcement" last Sunday. The documentary focusing on Magic Johnson's '91 revelation that he was HIV positive was down from the documentary the net aired on Selection Sunday last year. "The Fab Five" averaged 2.75 million viewers in the same window in '11.
KICK START: NBC Sports Network averaged 82,000 viewers for the FC Dallas-Red Bulls season opener last Sunday from 3:00-5:30pm ET, which was net’s first MLS telecast since it signed a three-year, $30M deal in the offseason with NBC Sports Group. That figure is up from Fox Soccer’s 25,000 viewers for the comparable Rapids-Timbers matchup last year. In the same window on Sunday, Fox Soccer averaged 37,000 viewers for a Serie A Lazio-Bologna match.
THE HEAT IS ON: ESPN averaged a 3.2 million viewers for the Heat-Bulls game on Wednesday night, marking the net’s most-viewed telecast of the season. The game earned a 6.2 local rating in Chicago, marking the net’s best regular-season NBA rating ever in the market. Meanwhile, NBA TV averaged 643,000 viewers for the Heat-Magic game on Tuesday night, marking the second most-watched “Fan Night” game this season, behind only the Spurs-Heat matchup on Jan. 17. Heat-Magic also marks NBA TV’s ninth most-viewed game ever.
NOTES: FX averaged a 0.8 U.S. rating and 1.3 million viewers for the series debut of “The Ultimate Fighter Live” last Friday night from 9:00-11:38pm ET. The program helped FX to a primetime win among all cable nets for the night….FS Midwest earned a 6.3 local rating in St. Louis for Tuesday night’s Blues-Blackhawks game, marking the net’s highest-rated Blues game ever on the net. The game surpassed the previous high of a 5.6 rating for a game against the Sharks on Nov. 4, 2010.
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Sprint Cup: Kobalt Tools 4003/11Fox3:19-6:17pm5.28,528 NCAA Basketball Selection Show3/11CBS6:00-7:00pm3.6n/a WGC: Cadillac Championship:
NBA: Celtics-Lakers3/11ABC3:31-6:14pm2.64,049 Big Ten Championship:
Michigan State-Ohio State3/11CBS3:24-5:33pm2.53,722
SEC Tournament Championship:
WGC: Cadillac Championship:
Big Ten Semifinal: Ohio State-Michigan3/10CBS4:04-6:09pm1.62,440 SEC Tournament Semifinals:
Big Ten Semifinal:
SEC Tournament Semifinals:
"Road to the Final Four"3/11CBS12:00-1:00pm0.8n/a Mexico Primera Division:
Chivas de Guadalajara-Cruz Azul3/10Telem.7:55-10:08pm0.51,116
NHL: Bruins-Penguins3/11NBC12:30-3:03pm0.71,103 Atlantic 10 Championship:
Conference USA Championship:
Snowboarding: U.S. Grand Prix (taped)3/10NBC12:00-1:00pm0.5690 Freeskiing: U.S. Grand Prix (taped)3/10NBC1:00-2:00pm0.5683 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Nationwide Series:
Sam's Town 3003/10ESPN24:56-7:46pm1.52,503
ACC Tournament Semifinal:
Big 12 Tournament Championship:
Big East Tournament Championship:
ACC Tournament Championship:
Florida State-North Carolina3/11ESPN1:00-3:15pm1.52,159
NBA: Magic-Bulls3/8TNT8:16-10:48pm1.42,098 Big East Tournament Semifinal:
"The Announcement"3/11ESPN9:00-10:30pm1.32,047 "Bracketology"3/11ESPN7:00-9:00pm1.31,918 ACC Tournament Semifinal:
North Carolina-N.C. State3/10ESPN1:00-3:11pm1.51,572