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CBS’ telecast of Indiana-Michigan was the top-rated NCAA basketball game over the weekend, earning a 2.2 overnight Nielsen rating yesterday from 4:30-6:15pm ET. Duke’s blowout win over North Carolina ranked second, with ESPN earning a 2.0 overnight on Saturday night. That figure is down 36% from the net’s 3.1 overnight for the second regular-season Duke-UNC game last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).TOP-RATED COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAMES OVER THE WEEKENDDATENETSTART (ET)
MATCHUPRATING3/10CBS4:30pm Indiana-Michigan2.23/9ESPN9:00pm Duke-North Carolina2.03/9CBS12:00pm Florida-Kentucky1.23/9CBS4:15pm Notre Dame-Louisville1.23/9ESPN6:00pm Kansas-Baylor1.23/10CBS2:15pm MVC Championship: Creighton-Wichita State1.03/9CBS2:15pm UCLA-Washington0.93/10CBS12:00pm VCU-Temple0.93/9ESPN12:00pm Syracuse-Georgetown0.93/10ESPN12:30pm Illinois-Ohio State0.9
HEIDI MOMENT: In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell notes CBS “pulled its national coverage” of the Creighton-Wichita State Missouri Valley Championship during the final minutes and “shifted most TV sets in the country to early stages of the Big 10 regular-season finale" between Indiana and Michigan. What most of the CBS audience “missed was a crazy final minute” when Wichita State “turned a 66-58 deficit with 3:21 remaining into a white-knuckle one-point Creighton lead with only 21 seconds remaining.” The move was because CBS “made the choice that bigger always is better.” MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin in a statement wrote, “It is disrespectful to our two teams and to every institution in our conference. This is our championship game for goodness sake. CBS needs to apologize.” Burwell writes there “ought to be a few large and embarrassing gulps going on at CBS” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/11).
THE NATURAL: In DC, Mark Giannotto writes former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg has “become the studio face of ESPN’s college basketball coverage,” and he is in the “midst of a three-week stretch in which he’ll appear on one of the network’s platforms every day.” But it is the “manner in which he has approached this new venture, plunging himself full bore into an unfamiliar profession, that has suddenly turned him into a rising star at ESPN.” ESPN's Rece Davis said, "He's got a gift, but it's his wit that will separate him from others. Some coaches can't do it." Giannotto notes Greenberg’s “sardonic sense of humor has begun to shine through.” ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Barry Sacks said that Greenberg's “nerves and comfort with the camera have never been a problem” (WASHINGTON POST, 3/11).
MR. SUNSHINE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Stephen Moore profiled ESPN’s Dick Vitale for The Weekend Interview feature and wrote even Vitale’s “ardent fans admit that he's often the opposite of candid, and seldom has a negative word to say about anyone.” Vitale was "agitated” when he heard the criticism. He said, "I find that mind-boggling. If there's something happening in the game, I will tell you they didn't do this or do that right. But I'm doing games featuring hall of fame coaches -- Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski. The best of the best. What is there to rip those guys about? And the players are just college kids. They're playing with spirit -- they're not paid professional athletes." When asked about paying college players, Vitale said, "My feeling is with the millions that are being made by the schools and the billions for television rights, I definitely think the kids should get paid something -- a couple of hundred bucks a month at least. I mean, the money they're bringing in -- are you kidding me? I'll tell you, if someone is going to sell a jersey with my name on the back of it, I want to get paid" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/10).
NBC will "pre-empt its Sunday morning staples 'Today' and 'Meet the Press' this May to show the Monaco Grand Prix live" on May 26 at 7:30am ET, according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The telecast "marks the first time the famed race will be aired live on U.S. broadcast TV." NBC Sports Group President of Programming Jon Miller said, “Monaco captures what Formula One is. It’s got the glamour and the celebrities.” Mickle notes the Monaco Grand Prix will be the "first of four F1 races that air live on NBC this year." The other three -- Montreal on June 9; Austin on Nov. 17; and Brazil on Nov. 24 -- "give F1 unprecedented network coverage in the U.S." Another 13 races will "air on NBC Sports Network and two races will air on CNBC because of a scheduling conflict" with the Tour de France on NBC Sports Net. The net’s sales team "signed a deal with Rolex that makes the watch company the presenting sponsor of all of its F1 coverage." It also "picked up advertising commitments from ExxonMobil, Mercedes-Benz, Pirelli, John Deere and other companies." Miller said, “We’ve gotten tremendous sponsor and advertising support before we’ve even broadcast one race.” Mickle notes NBC Sports "plans to block off three hours of coverage for every F1 race" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/11 issue). NBC is billing its broadcast as “Mimosas from Monaco” (USA TODAY, 3/11).
OPEN TO DISCUSSION: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds reported NBC Sports Group will “televise 200 hours of open wheel racing in 2013" with its coverage of F1 and IndyCar racing. In addition to the F1 races, NBC Sports Group “will air practices, qualifying, pre- and post-race studio shows, and behind-the-scenes programs.” Three-time defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel will be the “first driver profiled in the first-ever episode of 'F1 36,'" which will air March 29 at 7:00pm ET. "F1 36" is the “latest in the NBC Sports Group’s original behind-the-scenes series.” The net also launched a "new website and plans to stream races later in the year under the ‘TV Everywhere’ flag” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 3/11).
Fox Sports 1's news program "Fox Sports Live," which will air at 11:00pm ET nightly, will "attempt to siphon viewers” from ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Fox Sports co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks said that “no on-air talent has been hired for the show as of yet, but the network has a rough idea of the format, rundown and structure.” The initial plans are to “air a three-hours news and highlight show from Los Angeles starting at launch; a morning newscast (likely airing from New York) is expected to launch” in January ‘14. Shanks said, "There is a baseline news investment that you have to have to be credible in a 24/7 environment. We want this to be a place where people can fulfill their needs for highlights. It's a news-based show, but it is not two people sitting at a desk reading highlights and then breaking down the X's and O's. We are going [to] try to have a bit of fun." Fox Sports execs said that they are “interested in bidding on the NBA's broadcast rights for Fox Sports 1 when the league's current deal with ESPN and Turner Sports concludes” at the end of the ‘15-16 season. FS1 will air a “primetime Thursday Night college football game and a tripleheader on Saturdays.” Teams will be “drawn from among the Pac-12, Big 12 and Conference USA.” Primetime college basketball games “will air Monday and Thursday nights, plus Saturday and Sunday coverage of the Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA.” Meanwhile, Shanks "deflected" inquiries about the future of Fox Soccer. He said, "We absolutely want to maintain the leadership position we have in soccer.” Regarding the possibility of an FS2 channel, Shanks said that it was “still too early to be definitive.” Shanks: "We have to still figure out if we want to put a Number 2 out there” (SI.com, 3/10). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Erin Andrews likely will "be a key FS1 figure,” and he predicts FS1 and Keith Olbermann "will work out some sort of a deal” (DENVER POST, 3/11).
NO LARGE LAYOFFS HEADED TO SPEED: In Charlotte, Mark Washburn reported some of the 125 full-time jobs at Speed channel “will change, others will probably move and a few will be lost to redundancies.” But “for now, no large layoffs are expected.” Shows like the Barrett-Jackson car auctions “will continue on Fox Sports 1, but other Speed shows -- such as reality series 'Car Warriors' and 'Hard Parts: South Bronx' -- are likely to disappear” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/9).
THE LEADER LEADS: ESPN Global Customer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt said of how he views competition from FS1 and other cable sports networks, "We sell who we are and will continue to do so. We have a brand that's long-established, a multimedia brand with sizable audience of both men and women. While Fox or the others focus on how they will position themselves to sell against us with their sports networks, we consider our sales competition to be much broader than those all-sports networks." Erhardt added, "We are not an emerging brand like some of these competitors are. We are not focusing on them. We are keeping our eye on the direction we are going in. We are selling commercials for our programming across all screens because viewers are watching sports on all screens. That's our ad focus" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/11 issue).
In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis writes with the Marlins’ TV deal with FS Florida lasting until ’20, the team is “among those missing the gravy train due to being locked into a long-term broadcast contract.” The team’s annual revenue from local TV is “believed to be” in the $16-18M range. While there are "skeptics" to Owner Jeffrey Loria’s claim the Marlins lost tens of millions of dollars in ’12, the team’s payroll reduction has “more to do with limited local television revenue than disappointing attendance.” A “troubling sign for the Marlins is their average audience last season on FSF was 32,000, fourth-lowest in MLB.” However, the Astros and Padres “scored their big deals with smaller viewership” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/11).
SPANNING THE GLOBE: In Boston, Bruce Allen cited sources as saying that SI has “had conversations" with the Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard “about coming on staff with them as a Boston-based NFL writer.” Sources said that while the move is not official, the Globe is “making preparations as if they expect Bedard to depart following next month’s NFL draft.” The loss of Bedard “would be a big one” (BOSTONSPORTSMEDIAWATCH.com, 3/8).
APP TO THE FUTURE: BUSINESS INSIDER’s Julie Bort wrote start-up Prediculous “wants to expand into a whole new set of fantasy sports games.” The two-year-old company has “built a handful of short-lived, custom fantasy Facebook games and has scored some big advertising sponsorships from names like Subway, UPS and Allstate.” Its eponymous flagship game “lets people predict the future of anything in the worlds of sports, news, entertainment.” But “next up is a big expansion into all sorts of other fantasy games” (BUSINESSINSIDER.com, 3/10).
NEW ROLE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes while CBS' Lesley Visser will not appear as a sideline reporter this year, she will make appearances "in taped features." Visser said, "I just wanted to do something different." She added that she will "continue to do live CBS pregame reports from the NFL games being aired that day on Fox." Visser: "I've got a couple years left at CBS, and I've cherished every second" (USA TODAY, 3/11).