SBD/March 26, 2012/Media

NCAA Tourney Overnights Down Over Weekend With Each CBS Window Seeing Decline

CBS sees 29% drop in overnight ratings for Kentucky-Baylor game

Each of CBS’ NCAA men’s basketball tournament windows over the weekend saw a year-over-year decline. Kansas’ defeat of North Carolina in the Midwest Region final was the highest-rated game for the weekend with a 7.8 overnight, down 20% compared to Kentucky-North Carolina in the same window last year. CBS’ early window Sunday also saw a 29% drop for the Kentucky-Baylor game. CBS’ two windows yesterday, which aired from 2:15-7:15pm ET, went head-to-head with the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on NBC from 2:30-6:30pm, which was up 129% as Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event since ’09. TBS saw gains for its two telecasts on Friday night, with North Carolina-Ohio up 106% compared to Kansas-Richmond in '11 and Kansas-N.C. State up 13% compared to VCU-FSU (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes “brand names from big conferences in the Final Four ... suggests CBS/Turner will end up with solid Final Four ratings” (USA TODAY, 3/26).

NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT:
REGIONAL WEEKEND OVERNIGHT RATINGS
DATE
NET
'12 MATCHUP
RAT.
'11 MATCHUP
% +/-
3/23
TBS
North Carolina-Ohio
3.5
Kansas-Richmond
105.9%
3/23
TBS
Kansas-N.C. State
2.6
VCU-FSU
13.0%
3/23
CBS
Baylor-Xavier
3.5
North Carolina-Marquette
-16.7%
3/23
CBS
Kentucky-Indiana
5.3
Kentucky-Ohio State
-23.2%
3/24
CBS
Louisville-Florida
4.7
Butler-Florida
-24.2%
3/24
CBS
Ohio State-Syracuse
6.9
UConn-Arizona
-6.8%
3/25
CBS
Kentucky-Baylor
5.3
VCU-Kansas
-29.3%
3/25
CBS
Kansas-North Carolina
7.8
Kentucky-North Carolina
-20.4%
 
 


BOOTH REVIEWS
: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote for the second straight year, Charles Barkley “is taking up space in CBS’ NCAA hoops studio.” There is “no spontaneity,” and when there are “too many mouths locked into this format there 1) is no give-and-take, no conversation and 2) by the time the last guy gets to speak (it’s often Barkley), there’s not much left to say.” Raissman: “Why even bother putting Barkley on unless you want him to be himself?” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/25). In Tampa, Tom Jones notes there are “not only too many talking heads” on CBS’ coverage of the NCAA tournament, “half of them shouldn’t even be there.” These are “the biggest, most-watched college basketball studio shows of the year and half the cast is made up of people who don't work on college broadcasts during the regular season.” That just “doesn't make sense.” Kenny Smith and Barkley “have been so-so," but the more they talk, the less Greg Anthony and Seth Davis “are able to talk.” Jones notes the broadcasting team of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg “would be No. 4” on his list of best announcing teams, as Kevin Harlan-Reggie Miller, Marv Albert-Steve Kerr and Verne Lundquist-Bill Raftery “all were superb.” Jones: “I’d rather have any of those teams call the Final Four ahead of Nantz and Kellogg” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26). In Boston, Chad Finn wrote the chemistry and camaraderie amongst Lundquist, Raftery and sideline reporter Lesley Visser “that is so apparent on the air is genuine, and it does not hibernate when the cameras are off.” Visser said, “They both have eloquence and wit, but they measure them out differently. Billy’s a riot, and Verne’s a great listener with a wonderful laugh, the best on television. We’re like an old married couple that still adores each other.” Raftery “comes across on air as the charming raconteur, the natural life of the barroom” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/23).

SAY YOU'RE SORRY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes on Saturday, with seconds left in the Louisville-Florida game, with the Cardinals up three, Harlan “lost track of the score.” As Florida “tried successive 3-pointers to tie, Harlan declared ‘for the lead!’” Mushnick: “OK, such mistakes happen. But Harlan then made matters worse by pretending that he knew it was a three-point lead all along, that we never heard what he had been shouting or we’re too stupid to have known better.” He “owed his audience and reputation an acknowledgement -- ‘Sorry, folks, I lost track’ -- instead of bad faith.” All he had to do was “briefly note his error and he would have disarmed reasonable viewers.” Instead, his “dishonesty, was insulting” (N.Y. POST, 3/26). Mushnick yesterday wrote with four networks televising the tournament, “we weren’t supposed to miss anything.” But Thursday, Ohio State-Cincinnati “didn’t end until 11:55, Marquette-Florida ended at 12:33 Friday morning.” Mushnick: “What difference does it make if they were on different networks if half the country’s asleep during the final 16?” (N.Y. POST, 3/25).

HIGHLY UNLIKELY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Erik Holm reported Fox Sports launched a contest on its website before this year's tournament offering $1M "to anyone who managed to pick all 63 March Madness games correctly." The net also "bought an insurance policy for the contest, paying just a fraction of the potential prize money so an underwriter, HCC Insurance Holdings Inc., would be on the hook if someone managed to put together a perfect bracket." But by the time the field was down to the Sweet 16 "at the end of the first weekend, no one was left." But the insurers that back the NCAA contests "are extraordinarily unlikely to ever be stuck with a claim." SCA Promotions Dir of Sales Paul Panzera, whose company backs large NCAA bracket competitions with millions of entries, said that the closest anyone got "was 59 of the 63 games." SCA is not an insurer, but it "often passes along a chunk of its risk to reinsurers like Swiss Re and Munich Re." Holm noted most of those involved in the "perfect-bracket contests declined to say how much the insurance coverage costs." Fox Sports Interactive VP/Marketing Andrew Hossom said it was "cheap." He added, "We are conscious of our budget." Panzer added that SCA will "charge roughly 2% of the prize value for a perfect-bracket competition." That would amount "to $20,000 for a $1 million prize" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/24).

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