SBD/March 16, 2012/Media

NCAA Men's Tourney Thurs. Overnight Down Slightly, But Still Second Best Since '91

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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
'11
1-YR % +/-
'10 (CBS ONLY)
2-YR % +/-
Early afternoon
3.9
4.4
-11.4%
3.1
25.8%
Late afternoon
5.2
5.1
2.0%
3.5
48.6%
Early primetime
6.8
6.5
4.6%
6.0
13.3%
Late primetime
6.8
6.9
-1.4%
6.1
11.5%
OVERALL
5.6
5.7
-1.8%
4.6
21.7%
 

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 MATCHUP
RAT.
'11 MATCHUP
RAT.
% +/-
CBS
Early noon Murray State-Colorado State
2.1
West Virginia-Clemson
2.2
-4.5%
Late noon Marquette-BYU
1.9
Kentucky-Princeton
2.5
-24.0%
Early prime VCU-Wichita State
3.1
BYU-Wofford
3.5
-11.4%
Late prime Indiana-New Mexico State
2.8
Gonzaga-St. John's
3.1
-9.7%
truTV
Early noon Kansas State-Southern Miss
0.6
Butler-Old Dominion
0.6
0.0%
Late noon Syracuse-UNC Asheville
1.5
Pittsburgh-UNC Asheville
0.5
200.0%
Early prime Baylor-South Dakota State
1.0
Wisconsin-Belmont
0.9
11.1%
Late prime Colorado-UNLV
1.0
Kansas State-Utah State
0.8
25.0%
TBS
Early noon Louisville-Davidson
0.7
Morehead State-Louisville
0.9
-22.2%
Late noon New Mexico-
Long Beach State
1.1
Richmond-Vanderbilt
1.1
0.0%
Early prime Kentucky-Western Kentucky
1.6
Florida-UC Santa Barbara
1.0
60.0%
Late prime Iowa State-UConn
1.6
UCLA-Michigan State
1.8
-11.1%
TNT
Early noon Wisconsin-Montana
0.5
Temple-Penn State
0.7
-28.6%
Late noon Vanderbilt-Harvard
1.1
San Diego State-
Northern Colorado
1.0
10.0%
Early prime Gonzaga-West Virginia
1.1
UConn-Bucknell
1.1
0.0%
Late prime Ohio State-Loyola
1.3
Cincinnati-Missouri
1.2
8.3%
   
 

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).

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