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Kansas’ win over North Carolina yesterday led all weekend NCAA Tournament games with a 7.3 overnight Nielsen ratings on CBS from 5:15-7:45pm ET, up 14% from a 6.4 overnight for North Carolina-Creighton in the same window last year (also highest-rated game of third round). Indiana’s four-point win over Temple was not far behind Kansas-North Carolina. The game earned a 7.2 overnight from 3:00-5:15pm, up 20% from Michigan State-St. Louis last year. In the early Sunday afternoon window on CBS, Ohio State’s last-second win over Iowa State earned a 5.4 overnight, up 26% from N.C. State-Georgetown last year. Among games on cable TV, Florida Gulf Coast's win over San Diego State last night led the way with a 2.8 overnight on TBS, marking the top-rated game on cable for the weekend. Across all four networks on Sunday, NCAA Tournament coverage averaged a 7.6 overnight, marking the best average for the first Sunday of the tourney since ’93 (8.5 overnight). Yesterday’s coverage was up 19% compared to last year. Each of the four dayparts across all four nets saw a year-over-year increase. The first daytime window (12:00-2:45pm) drew it highest rating since ’02, while the first primetime window (5:15-9:15pm) had its highest rating since ’91. Through the first three rounds of the tournament, CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV are averaging a 6.3 overnight, marking the best opening week average in 23 years, dating back to when the event expanded to its current format. The 6.3 average is up 5% compared to the same point last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).TOP NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES FROM OPENING WEEKENDDATE
MATCHUPNETSTART (ET)RAT. PREV.% +/-3/24 Kansas-UNCCBS5:15pm7.3 UNC-Creighton14.1%3/24 Indiana-TempleCBS3:00pm7.2 Michigan St-St. Louis20.0%3/24 Ohio St-Iowa StCBS12:00pm5.4 NC State-Georgetown25.6%3/23 Michigan St-MemphisCBS2:30pm5.2 Ohio St-Gonzaga-8.8%3/23 Louisville-Colorado StCBS5:15pm4.7 Marquette-Murray St-9.6%3/23 Marquette-ButlerCBS8:00pm4.6 Kentucky-Iowa State7.0%3/23 Michigan-VCUCBS12:00pm3.9 Syracuse-Kansas St5.4%3/24 Florida Gulf Coast-
San Diego StTBS7:00pm2.8
Ohio-South Florida47.4%3/24 Miami-IllinoisTNT9:00pm2.7 Kansas-Purdue-3.6%3/24 Duke-CreightonTBS9:45pm2.6 FSU-Cincinnati30.0%3/23 Wichita St-GonzagaTNT8:30pm2.5 Baylor-Colorado38.9%3/22 Iowa St-Notre DameCBS9:45pm2.5 Xavier-Notre Dame-21.9%3/22 Ohio St-IonaCBS7:00pm2.4 Lehigh-Duke-41.5%3/22 Kansas-Western KentuckyTNT10:00pm2.3 Temple-South Florida109.1%
AGING LIKE A FINE WINE: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes he remains a "fan of CBS broadcasters Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery." Lundquist's play-by-play work "continues on the mark," while Raftery "retains his explosive, sometimes humorous commentary that features an 'in-the-gym' feeling." They have "fun and so do the viewers." Another "winning duo" is TNT's Marv Albert and Steve Kerr, who "handled Sunday's Kansas-North Carolina tussle, delineating why the Jayhawks were able to rally from an 11-point halftime deficit" to win 70-58 (DENVER POST, 3/25). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Lundquist and Raftery are the "best" announcer team, as they have "combined to call more than 500 tournament games and sound as fresh as ever." Michigan State teammates Keith Appling and Derrick Nix on Saturday got "into a towel-throwing scrap during a timeout," and Jones writes it was "nice work ... by the CBS cameras and production team to have a show of what otherwise would have been a meaningless timeout during a typical commercial break." Meanwhile, CBS' Greg Anthony is the net's "best studio analyst." For what CBS gains from TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith in "name recognition and entertainment value, it loses in top-notch analysis." Jones writes, "I love Charles Barkley as an analyst. I like Kenny Smith as an analyst. But I don't like either one of them on CBS's NCAA Tournament studio show." It is "not that they are bad," as Smith "seems to know his stuff." It is "just that both take time away" from Anthony (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/25).CRAIG + THE MACHINE: In Newark, Andrew Koob writes TNT's Craig Sager "should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery." And he "probably shouldn’t be allowed to be on TV blinding people with those suits, either." Koob: "But, seriously, whose bright idea was it to let that man operate a front-end loader during Sunday's broadcast?" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/25). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Ken Fang writes how Sager "got permission to go inside a frontloader and steer it is the million dollar question." Fang: "The main thing is that he still wore his loud getup for the feature including blue sneakers. Wearing blue sneakers takes a lot of gumption, but then again that never stopped Sager from wearing loud suits and ties every week during the NBA season" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/25).
SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Doug Gottlieb will join the CBS studio show beginning with the Sweet 16, and he and Barkley bring an "edginess that produces tournament coverage with an unprecedented irreverence." Barkley's TV "stardom comes from not always worrying about asserting opinions that are supported by fact." CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus said that he is "not worried about Gottlieb ruffling many sensibilities." Hiestand notes controversy and criticism "make for good TV," and just as Barkley "wisely steps away from criticizing the unpaid workforce in an enterprise worth billions, Gottlieb doesn't sound like he'll go out of bounds" (USA TODAY, 3/25). In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote all of the "studio hosts on CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV kind of blend together. It’s a blabberfest" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 3/23).
TWITTER REAX: The NCAA Tournament drew a variety of reactions over the weekend from Twitter users, tackling topcis ranging from Barkley's performance to the constant on-air mentions of Turner-owned Bleacher Report. LSU SID Michael Bonnette wrote, "Charles Barkley could be the funniest guy on TV. The guy is hilarious. Just had great comeback after Ernie Johnson called him out." ESPN's Dan Dakich wrote, "Y do people hate Barkley?? He doesn't talk 'TV'..gives opinions..wait that's y folks hate..people want same old nonsense..I like him." The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein wrote, "I dig Barkley, but he sounded like a stooge by not admitting he bricked one when claiming B1G hoops is 'overrated.'" Sports Media Watch's Paulsen wrote, "Greg Gumbel is one of the best, but that CBS/Turner halftime show is far better with Ernie Johnson. It's really not even close." The N.Y. Daily News' Raissman wrote, "CBS can replay Nantz's call of Kraft buzzer beater all it wants. It only makes u want to hear how Gus Johnson would've handled it." Boston Globe's Pete Abraham wrote, "Len Elmore just said a team down by 7 with less than two minutes left needs to score. Thanks, Len." ESPN.com's Molly Knight wrote, "Awful that CBS plugs Bleacher Report every 5 seconds. Yes, let's hype low-quality, search-optimized slideshows from unpaid non-journalists." Bleacher Report's Dan Levy wrote, "This is the peril of CBS putting just one game in early window. There's nothing to cut out to, then post game, THEN the next game is solo."
IT'S ALL ABOUT ME: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes throughout the first week of CBS-Turner’s NCAA Tournament broadcasts, the nets "went ESPN on us." The message was "clear and repetitive: If you act like a self-impressed fool, we’ll minimally reward you with a slow-motion cameo." And the more you "betray the sport as a sport, the greater the televised rewards" (N.Y. POST, 3/25).
The USTA is in "early talks to renew its broadcast agreement with CBS Sports for the U.S. Open and has communicated that the group expects a hefty increase” from the current $20M annually, according to sources cited by Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The current deal “runs through” the ‘14 event. The sources added that the USTA has “indicated in the early talks that its goal is to have a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium” by ‘17. The expectation of a higher rights fee in the future “may explain why the USTA last week announced it had agreed to player demands of paying out a significant increase in prize money.” USTA Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier said, “We have begun discussions with CBS. We are exploring a roof and want to have a roof, but I can’t say by 2017 we will have one.” Kaplan notes whether the U.S. Open “can get a higher rights fee is uncertain.” The sources said that the USTA is “banking on a healthy rights fee environment.” TV consultant Mike Trager said, “If it is just broadcast, it is not such a super-heated market. Any increase would be nominal.” Trager noted that most of the rights fee increases “are on the cable side.” With the U.S. Open signed with ESPN through ‘14, USTA execs “might be able to negotiate a better package across the board when their current deals expire” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/25 issue).
St. Louis-based sports-oriented social media network LockerDome has struck a joint partnership with the Blues, representing the company's first team-based deal. In the pact, LockerDome will launch the Blues LockerDome Network, while the company will gain a presence on the club's official website. As a result, the deal is largely based around shared traffic, and no money is changing hands. The Blues LockerDome Network will also offer various prizes to fans, including game tickets and the ability to greet the team as it takes the ice. The pact is the first of several LockerDome is seeking out with various teams and properties. LockerDome co-Founder & CEO Gabe Lozano said, "We think there's a lot of growth to be achieved in both directions in which we help each other grow our audiences." The deal extends a run of recent activity for LockerDome, including the recent closing of a $6M Series A venture capital funding round that included former Blues D Chris Pronger, and a partnership with the USA Today Sports Media Group.