SBD/March 22, 2013/Media

NCAA Tournament Opening Thursday Has Best Average Overnight Rating In 22 Years

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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 afternoon
4.1
3.9
4.4
3.1
Late afternoon
5.5
5.2
5.1
3.5
Early primetime
7.4
6.8
6.5
6.0
Late primetime
6.4
6.8
6.9
6.1
THURSDAY AVERAGE
5.8
5.6
5.7
4.6
 

AND ON THE FIRST DAY...: In DC, Cindy Boren wrote with TNT's Charles Barkley doing NCAA Tournament analysis, it is the "overall effect that counts and the sheer unpredictability, not the preparation." Barkley has been "doing this for the NCAA tournament for Turner Sports for three years now and he isn't bothered by criticism." He said, "I never take anything personally. Obviously the NBA is where my bread is buttered, but I like my chances against anybody talking about basketball" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/21). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS' Clark Kellogg "now makes with those transparently forced holler-guy routines en route to commercials." Why do networks "figure they need to hype what we already are watching?" (N.Y. POST, 3/22). In Hartford, Dom Amore writes, "It's day one at ESPN, and it's Digger Phelps' day. It's Jay Bilas' day, and Bruce Pearl's and Seth Greenberg's day." The Bristol campus "War Room" is "packed with researchers, producers and folks updating the website, and it's buzzing with basketball banter as the NCAA Tournament begins" (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/22).

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).
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