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CBS and Turner combined to average a 7.3 rating for Thursday's coverage of NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games, an increase of 4% over last year's 7.0 rating. The improvement came despite three of the four games being decided by 10 points or more. The tournament across TBS, TNT, CBS and truTV is averaging a 6.4 rating, up 5% compared to last year (Turner).
GOTTLIEB'S GAFFE: CBS' Doug Gottlieb apologized Thursday night for saying he was trying to bring "white man's perspective" to the net's studio set. Gottlieb said, "It was not a smart thing to say." The AP noted Gottlieb was on the pregame show with Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, and his comment ended up "sparking criticism on Twitter that his words were inappropriate." Gottlieb initially said, "I don't know why you guys ask me, I'm just here to bring diversity to this set, give kind of the white man's perspective." Anthony "made a face after Gottlieb's remark and Kenny Smith said he had 'jumped right into it'" (AP, 3/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote it "didn't take long" for Gottlieb to "stick his foot in his mouth." Why someone would consider skin color a "relevant topic on a pregame show discussing college basketball is anyone's guess, but here's betting Gottlieb won't be trying to mine that topic for a cheap laugh any more" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/28). The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION noted Gottlieb's comment led to some "awkward moments" with Gumbel, Anthony, Smith and Barkley. Their reactions "suggest it's one of those scenarios we've all seen: that guy in the group who thinks he can make this kind of joke because everybody is cool but he's such a clown he doesn't realize no one else is down with him like that" (AJC.com, 3/28). But Barkley Thursday night said, "I want to say something about Doug Gottlieb. He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy, all those idiots on Twitter, which I would never, ever do. Listen -- me, Kenny, Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally, so all you people at home who got no life who are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It’s over with and it’s no big deal” (“AT&T at the Half,” CBS, 3/28).
A TIMELESS DUO: CBS' Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery will call Saturday's Syracuse-Marquette East Region Final, and USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes they still "connect with viewers -- even much younger ones." Lundquist said that their "chemistry was obvious right from the start when they worked two college games together in 1982." CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus "put them together on the 2000 NCAA Tournament -- and they have been teamed ever since." Hiestand notes the 72-year-old Lundquist and the 69-year-old Raftery individually have "worked the most tournaments of the current announcers." Raftery is calling his 31st while Lundquist is on his 29th. Hiestand asks, "So how long will they be coming to our couches?" Raftery: "I never think of longevity but just doing the best job I can each night." Lundquist: "It's a privilege being involved in the tournament, and we don't take it lightly. There is no exit plan" (USA TODAY, 3/29).
TIME IS MONEY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes now all "pretense the NCAA Tournament is formatted for anything better than allowing TV to make back some of its Tournament rights money has been removed." Mushnick notes the Duke-Creighton Round of 32 matchup began at 9:48pm ET "and ended at midnight." Duke "arrived on campus" in Durham, N.C. at 4:30am (N.Y. POST, 3/29).
CBS Sports Radio’s John Feinstein on Thursday during his "CBS Sports Minute" took issue with ESPN’s sourcing on the news of Chris Collins being named Northwestern Univ. men’s basketball coach. Feinstein noted CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman broke the Collins story Wednesday morning and said it would be finalized later that day. Several hours later, having been “beaten by Goodman again on a college basketball story, ESPN reported that a ‘source’ had told one of their reporters that Collins was ‘close’ to a deal but that Collins wouldn’t be introduced as the new coach until after the season was over.” Feinstein: “What’s ESPN’s problem? Why can’t the four-letter network simply credit someone else for breaking a story? Why come up with some false angle to try to claim credit? … ESPN does a lot of good work. If only it would stop trying to take bows when others do good work” (CBS Sports Radio, 3/28).
DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME: In Columbia, Josh Kendall reported Univ. of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier was upset that Southern Cal's pro day "was being broadcast live by ESPN" instead of his team's pro day. Spurrier said, "I noticed both USCs had their pro timing day today. One of them finished No. 7 in the county last year, the other was not in the Top 25, yet ESPN decided to go out to the one in California ... and televise their pro timing day live. It's interesting that (ESPN doesn't) come around here on signing day, they don't come around here on pro timing day, and yet they want us to play all these Thursday night games for them, which we do." He added, "Maybe we need to consider playing on that new network, what is it? FoxSports Live?" (GOGAMECOCKS.com, 3/27).
SPRING INTO SHAPE: In Orlando, Matt Murschel noted ESPN's family of networks "will carry coverage of 13 college football spring games." Longhorn Network will air Texas' Orange & White game Saturday night, while ESPN will air Texas A&M's Maroon & White game on April 13 and ESPN2 will carry Alabama's A-Day game on April 20. ESPN3 "will air 10 games from the ACC and SEC" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 3/28).
The charts below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NCAA Tournament: Second Round: Ohio State-Iona3/22CBS7:00-9:33pm2.13,151 NCAA Tournament: Second Round: Iowa State-Notre Dame3/22CBS9:51-11:56pm2.33,462 X Games Tignes3/23ABC2:00-6:00pm0.5 NCAA Tournament: Third Round: Marquette-Butler3/23CBS7:54-10:35pm4.06,442 World Figure Skating Championships3/23NBC12:00-2:00pm0.7n/a "Golf Central Live"3/23NBC2:00-2:30pm0.5n/a PGA Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational: Third Round3/23NBC2:30-6:00pm2.0n/a U.S. Alpine Championships3/24NBC12:00-1:00pm0.5n/a Golf Digest Equipment Insider3/24NBC1:00-2:00pm0.4n/a "Golf Central Live"3/24NBC2:00-2:30pm0.5n/a FIFA World Cup qualifier: Costa Rica-U.S.3/22UniMas9:55pm-12:18am0.61,089 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NCAA Tournament: Third Round: Wichita State-Gonzaga3/23TNT8:35-11:20pm2.54,178 NCAA Tournament: Third Round: Florida Gulf Coast-San Diego State3/24TBS7:00-9:20pm2.43,861 NBA: Heat-Celtics3/18ESPN8:00-10:55pm2.53,787 NCAA Tournament: Third Round: Miami-Illinois3/24TNT8:54-11:37pm2.43,711 NCAA Tournament: Third Round: Duke-Creighton3/24TBS9:40pm-12:12am2.43,711 NCAA Tournament: Second Round: Kansas-Western Kentucky3/22TNT10:00pm-12:31am1.93,190 NCAA Tournament: Second Round: Florida Gulf Coast-Georgetown3/22TBS6:40-9:20pm1.82,846 NCAA Tournament: Second Round: North Carolina-Villanova3/22TNT7:11-9:40pm1.72,587 NCAA Tournament: Third Round: Florida-Minnesota3/24TNT6:00-8:35pm1.52,469 NCAA Tournament: Second Round: Harvard-New Mexico3/21TNT10:03pm-12:20am1.62,415
In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht noted the Bulls' 101-97 victory over the Heat Wednesday night, which ended the Heat's 27-game win streak, "produced a 3.0 overnight rating on ESPN, the second best this season and fifth-best regular-season rating ever." It delivered "a 6.6 in Miami and 5.0 in Chicago" (NEWSOK.com, 3/28). FORBES.com's Kurt Badenhausen noted there was a 32% jump in ratings for Heat games on Sun Sports "compared to season-to-date ratings over the first 24 games of the streak (20 of the games were on Sun Sports with four on national TV)." The March 18 game against the Celtics "set a new ratings record on Sun Sports with a 12.2." Sun Sports averaged "8.9 during the first 24 games of the streak" (FORBES.com, 3/28).
BOBBY'S WORLD: Sacred Heart Univ. AD and former MLB manager Bobby Valentine will join SportsNet N.Y.'s on-air team as an analyst for its pre- and postgame coverage of the Mets. Valentine is expected to make 12-15 appearances throughout the season on SNY, beginning with Opening Day on Monday at 11:30am ET (SNY). The SNY agreement is "apart from Valentine's third job, as an NBC Sports radio commentator" (NEWSDAY, 3/29).
OPEN ACCESS: As part of the WNBA and ESPN's expanded TV deal, which was formally announced Thursday, broadcasts will "feature a referee cam worn by officials during select games and the inclusion of former players to provide their perspective on the progress of the sport through the years." The net also will have "increased access to practices, shootarounds and the locker rooms before games and during halftime" (AP, 3/28).
BEST-SELLER LIST: MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday morning, noting the "At Bat" app is the No. 1-selling sports app because "what you want in an app is reliability and coolness so every day there's something going on in baseball." He added, "The game itself lends itself to what our app does and the app is reliable." Bowman noted MLBAM has been a "step ahead of everybody and we've attracted great developers" and it has been a "big moneymaker" for the organization ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 3/27).