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The opening Thursday of the NCAA Tournament averaged a 5.8 overnight Nielsen rating across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, marking the best first Thursday for the tournament in 22 years. The 5.8 overnight is up 4% from a 5.6 rating last year. The early primetime window was the top window with a 7.4 overnight, up 9% from a 6.8 last year. The late primetime window averaged a 6.4 overnight, down 6% from last year. This year's late primetime window featured VCU's 46-point win over Akron and Syracuse's 47-point win over Montana. The first window of the day (early afternoon) delivered a 4.1 overnight, marking the second-best rating for the time slot since the tournament expanded to four telecasts in '91. The late afternoon window earned a 5.5 overnight, marking the highest rating on record for the time slot (CBS/Turner).OVERNIGHT RATINGS FOR OPENING THURSDAY
OF MEN'S NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
THURSDAY WINDOW (ET)'13'12'11'10 (CBS ONLY) Early afternoon18.104.22.168.1 Late afternoon22.214.171.124.5 Early primetime126.96.36.199.0 Late primetime188.8.131.52.1 THURSDAY AVERAGE184.108.40.206.6
DYNAMIC DUO: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted CBS announcers Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel tor the last 16 years "have called NCAA Tournament games, the longest streak of any of the broadcasting duos currently handling the tournament." The combo for the last 18 years has "called many New Jersey and now Brooklyn Nets television games." Eagle said that the "first order of business for him is to make sure to get the correct pronunciation for each player’s name." He added that his approach to "getting ready for a day unlike any other in broadcasting -- eight teams in four games -- is to think of four matchups rather than eight different teams" (JSONLINE.com, 3/20).
DAYTON ACCORD: truTV averaged 1.12 million viewers for the NCAA men’s First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday night, up 14% compared to the same four games last year. The average is also down 2% from the first iteration of the First Four in ’11 (Karp).
AVOIDING CORD CUTTING? MULTICHANNEL NEWS' R. Thomas Umstead noted with CBS "passing rights to live coverage" for the Final Four to Turner beginning next year, it could "keep young sports fans from potentially cutting the cable cord." While cord-cutting "isn't an epidemic, it's something that operators are keenly aware of and are eagerly looking to curtail." A Final Four "move to the Turner networks -- whether it's next year or in 2016 -- would only add to the idea that you need cable if you want to be in the game" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 3/18 issue).
SI has signed a three-year contract extension with football writer Peter King, and plans to launch a spinoff, football-centric website this summer that King will edit. The still-unnamed website has hired Greg Bedard from the Boston Globe, while Jenny Vrentas from the Newark Star-Ledger, Neil Janowitz from Fast Company and Bradley Smith from the N.Y. Times will join also SI. King has been with SI since '89, and chose to stay after weighing offers from several other entities, including ESPN and NBC. "Peter's the most prominent reporter on the most important beat in sports, and his ability to excel across the changing media landscape is a model for our organization," said Time Inc. Sports Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum. "We're excited to continue working with Peter and increasing his role with our new digital initiative." In addition to the new football website, King will continue his other duties, including work for the magazine, SI.com and his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
PAY DAY: In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports King's deal "marks a big departure" for SI and Time Inc., "since the deal will involve not so much the SI brand but rather a single writer." The signing means SI "avoids getting another black eye as it did five and a half years ago when its reigning star, Rick Reilly, announced he was jumping to ESPN." That multi-platform deal "reportedly was worth" $17M over five years. The King deal was "seen as a key contract for Time Inc., given all the recent turmoil, and it was not an easy one to nail down." It is "estimated to value" between $1.2-1.5M annually. King is "expected to continue his commentary" on NBC's "SNF." Fichtenbaum, regarding the football-centric website, said, "It’s still in the planning stages. Right now, we’re just calling it Peter’s site.” He said that he "hopes to have it up and running by the time football training camps open in August." Meanwhile, Smith will be the new Dir of Photography "for the sports group." Janowitz will be SI.com Senior Editor, "focusing on sports and pop culture" (N.Y. POST, 3/22).
BOSTON BREAKER: BOSTON SPORTS MEDIA WATCH's Bruce Allen reported Bedard will "continue with the Globe through next month's NFL draft." Bedard "will be based in Boston, so we'll assume he'll still have a big focus on the Patriots." Bedard confirmed the news on his Twitter account, writing, "Yes it's true: I will be joining Sports Illustrated as a senior writer effective May 1. Love the Globe. This was just a terrific opportunity" (BOSTONSPORTSMEDIA.com, 3/20). In Boston, Chad Finn writes football more than any other sport is the "one in which self-starting reporters can build an advantage by becoming immersed in its nuances and complexities, then finding an accessible way to relate that depth of knowledge to an audience." Finn: "I don’t know of anyone anywhere who has done that better than Greg Bedard since he became the Globe’s national NFL columnist in October 2010." There is "no doubt he’ll continue to provide original insight in his new gig" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).
Sun Sports drew a 12.2 local rating in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market for the Heat-Celtics game on Monday night, marking a record for any Heat game -- regular-season or playoff -- on the RSN. The game also aired on ESPN (no local blackout), drawing a 5.3 rating in the market. Wednesday night’s Heat-Cavaliers game drew an 11.7 local rating on the Sun Sports, with the game peaking at an 18.5 rating as the Heat came back from 27 points down in the third quarter. Both telecasts beat the net’s previous top game rating -- an 11.1 for a game against the Pacers on March 10. Sun Sports has aired 20 of the 24 Heat games during the team’s win streak, averaging an 8.9 local rating during that period. For comparison, Sun Sports was averaging a 5.7 rating for Heat games heading into the All-Star break. Meanwhile, NBA TV has added coverage of Friday night’s Heat-Pistons game. The game originally was scheduled to be aired only on Sun Sports and FS Detroit (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). ESPN’s Bill Simmons on Wednesday night read a promo for the net's coverage of Heat-Bulls next Wednesday and said, “You know who’s praying that Miami’s streak keeps going? Here’s a hint: ESPN” (“NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 3/20).
MOVING PAST THE DOLPHINS: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes the Heat's ratings in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market are “climbing to levels once considered unfathomable for February and March.” The notion of a regular-season Heat game outdrawing a Dolphins game "would have been absurd" a few years ago, but "no longer.” During the Heat’s 24-game win streak, the two ABC Sunday afternoon games “produced larger Dade/Broward ratings” than the 13.5 local rating for the Texans-Dolphins opener last September. Jackson: “Even more impressive: Monday night’s Heat-Celtics game on Sun and ESPN produced a combined 17.5, smashing not only the Dolphins opener (by nearly 65,000 homes), but also topping the 16.3 average Dolphins rating locally last season” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 3/22).
Navy AD Chet Gladchuk said that the academy will "honor all of its contracts with CBS Sports" even though it is becoming a football-only member of the former Big East in '15, according to Bill Wagner of the Annapolis CAPITAL. The deal will "ensure the Navy football program continues to receive the same level of revenue and exposure it has developed during a recent unprecedented run of national success." CBS Sports Network will "retain rights to all Naval Academy home football games held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium through 2017." The broadcast net also will "retain rights to Navy’s home games with Notre Dame as well as the Army-Navy game through 2018." Gladchuk said that one of the "conditions of Navy’s membership involved the level of television coverage." Gladchuk said, “Basically, our deal with the Big East stated that under no circumstances would Navy lose ground in terms of television revenue or exposure." Meanwhile, Wagner noted ESPN will televise "all of Navy’s away games" as part of its new deal with the former Big East. That marks an "increase in exposure for Navy, which could never be certain whether its road games would be televised or not." It is "unclear how revenue derived from the ESPN contract will be shared now that CBS is retaining the rights to all Navy home games along with the selected rivalry games" (Annapolis CAPITAL, 3/20).
TROPIC THUNDER: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis noted the Hawaii football team "stands to gain visibility, but likely little cash from a new TV agreement announced Wednesday" between ESPN and the Mountain West Conference. The MWC is "expected to receive" about $18M in combined revenue from its ESPN and CBS deals. UH officials have said that under terms of their membership agreement with the conference, the school "will not share in revenues" until the football shares of the other 11 members each exceed $2.3M, "the worth of UH's local TV and pay-per-view package, annually." The other members are "expected to average" about $1.5M each annually, "depending upon bonuses, from the combined deals with ESPN and CBS." UH officials also said that the school will "not receive the $300,000 bonus for conference-controlled games that air on designated national networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and ESPN2) or the $200,000 bonus for Saturday games on those outlets" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 3/21).
The CFL and TSN/RDS on Thursday announced an extension of their media rights agreement through '18. The deal includes rights to all CFL preseason, regular-season and playoff games, including the Grey Cup title game, in addition to the league's draft and combine. Some games also will air in French, and more games will air on RDS2. Radio rights to the Grey Cup on TSN and TEAM stations also are part of the deal (Bell Media). In Toronto, Bob Mitchell cites a source as saying the five-year deal is worth "significantly" more than C$30M per season, which is "more than double" the existing C$15M package that runs through the end of the '13 season. CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon "wouldn't confirm the dollar amount except to say it was a 'transformative deal' that would have a major impact on the economic stability of the league and its team." He said that the deal "bodes well for the CFL's future." The league and the Bell Media-controlled networks had been "talking for more than a year about renewing the existing pact." Cohon said, "We needed a deal that would dramatically change the economics of our league and that's what this does. This will allow losing teams to start making money and to make some investments in their future, whether it's new stadiums or practice facilities" (TORONTO STAR, 3/22). In Winnipeg, Paul Wiecek cites sources as saying the deal actually is worth "close to triple" the old deal. Part of that "windfall will be eaten up, of course, by the addition of a new ninth CFL team in Ottawa." But even with the additional team, sources said that the new deal "will still be worth over" $C4.5M overall per team per year (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 3/22).
SI's Richard Deitsch on his Twitter feed reported that ESPN's Rick Reilly "will re-sign" with the net and that a formal announcement is expected soon (TWITTER.com, 3/20). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Yoder wrote if Reilly is returning to ESPN, "I'd imagine it is at a greatly reduced rate." At this point, it could be "a situation where Reilly has nowhere else to go." His recent work has been "widely panned and the criticism has been harsh for Reilly's ESPN career." Yoder: "I'd put him in the same category as Bob Knight. Big name hires that for whatever reason didn't work out as ESPN envisioned" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/21).
SCALING BACK: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes MLB Cardinals radio announcer Mike Shannon is "about to enter his 43rd season" in the booth, so "not surprisingly, he is cutting back a bit in his broadcast schedule this season." He had been "taking off about 15 games in recent seasons, but that number is set to roughly double this year." Cardinals Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Dan Farrell said that "most -- if not all -- absences will be for road games and primarily on three-city trips beginning with one in mid-April." FS Midwest broadcasters Rick Horton and Al Hrabosky are "to be the primary fill-ins when Shannon is absent" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/22).
ON THE MEND: The POST-DISPATCH's Caesar notes at KXFN-AM in St. Louis on Thursday, things "quickly turned from the comparatively trivial jock-jabbering to a scary health situation" as afternoon drive-time program co-host Jeff Gordon "passed out while on the air shortly after the show signed" on at 3:00pm CT. Gordon and partner Brian McKenna were broadcasting when Gordon "became ill and fainted." McKenna said, "It was scary. On the air I had to let our producer know what was going on, so I said 'Hey John we've got to go to break, Gordo just passed out.' So he threw it to break." Gordon early Thursday night said that he "was feeling better" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/22).
Tuesday's Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic championship marked the most-watched sporting event in the Dominican Republic in at least the past 10 years. Nearly 39% of available viewers tuned in for the game, breaking the previous record set for the DR-Netherlands semifinal. The game also averaged 843,000 viewers in the U.S. on MLB Network, making it the second-best audience on the network for a non-postseason game (fourth best audience overall). Additionally, it set a record in Puerto Rico with 64% of available viewers tuning in across Telemundo, MLB Net and ESPN Deportes, breaking the previous high set for the team’s semifinal against Japan last Saturday. MLB Net’s six most-viewed non-postseason games all came from the ’13 WBC.
WHAT’S UP DOC? ESPN drew 1.6 million viewers for the premiere of “Survive and Advance” last Sunday night. That ranks 11th among all ESPN documentaries since the “30 for 30” series began in October ’09. The film’s audience was down from 2.0 million viewers for the premiere of “The Announcement” on Selection Sunday last year, and down from 2.7 million viewers for the premiere of “The Fab Five” on the same day in ’11. Meanwhile, the premiere of truTV’s documentary “Bluegrass Kingdom: The Gospel of Kentucky Basketball,” drew 278,000 viewers last Sunday from 8:00-9:00pm ET. truTV led into the doc with an NCAA selection show special from 7:00-8:00pm, which drew 396,000 viewers.
HALF OFF: NBC Sports Network drew a combined 262,000 viewers for the live and replay telecasts of the F1 Australia Grand Prix last Sunday, which was the net’s first F1 race as part of its new multiyear deal. That audience is down 49% from 518,000 viewers on Speed last year. The live race drew 124,000 viewers from 1:30-4:00am on Sunday morning, while the replay from 1:00-3:30pm drew 138,000 viewers. Last year, the live race drew 314,000 viewers and 204,000 viewers watched the replay.
NOTES: Fox finished with a 4.6 rating and 7.5 million viewers for last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, up 4% and 3%, respectively, from a 4.4 rating and 7.3 million viewers in '12. Through four races, the NSCS on Fox is averaging a 6.3 rating and 10.4 million viewers, up 2% in both metrics compared to the same period last season….HBO averaged 1.2 million viewers for its “World Championship Boxing” telecast last Saturday night, which featured Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov. The audience was flat compared to the net’s telecast last week of Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud. Last Sunday morning, HBO averaged 274,000 viewers for a replay of the Bradley-Provodnikov fight.
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. Ratings for ABC's coverage of the SEC Tournament were unavailable at presstime.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Sprint Cup: Bristol3/17Fox1:00-5:00pm4.67,500 NCAA Basketball
Championship Selection Show3/17CBS6:00-7:00pm4.2n/a
Big Ten Championship:
Big Ten Semifinal:
Ohio State-Michigan State3/16CBS4:15-6:15pm2.4n/a
Big Ten Semifinal: Wisconsin-Indiana3/16CBS2:30-3:45pm2.3n/a NBA: Knicks-Clippers3/17ABC3:30-6:00pm1.8 PGA Tour: Tampa Bay
Championship: Final Round3/17NBC3:00-6:00pm1.72,500
Mountain West Championship:
"NBA Countdown"3/17ABC3:15-3:30pm1.3 PGA Tour: Tampa Bay
Championship: Third Round3/16NBC3:00-6:00pm1.11,500
"Road to the Final Four"3/17CBS12:00-1:00pm0.9n/a NHL: Bruins-Penguins3/17NBC12:30-3:00pm0.91,400 Liga MX: Club America-San Luis3/16Univ.6:55-9:00pm0.6969 MLS: DC United-Red Bulls3/16NBC12:30-3:00pm0.3461 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) Big East Championship:
Big 12 Championship:
"College GameDay"3/16ESPN8:05-8:30pm1.42,081 Bracketology special3/17ESPN7:00-9:00pm1.31,864 NASCAR Nationwide Series: Bristol3/16ESPN21:53-4:30pm1.11,704 Big East Semifinal:
Big East Semifinal:
"Survive and Advance"3/17ESPN9:00-11:00pm1.11,603 UFC 158 Prelims3/16FX8:00-10:00pm0.91,579