SBD/April 5, 2013/Media

CBS Planning Final Four Coverage From All Angles, Ready To Move On From Ware Injury

CBS' production truck staff unanimously decided not to show the Ware replay
Whether the Final Four will be watched "on a mobile app or giant flat-screen TV," CBS Producer Mark Wolff and Director Bob Fishman "will literally decide how you see it," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Wolff and Fishman will sit in a production truck "with feeds from 16-17 cameras -- up from the 7-8 cameras during regular-season action." Fishman said, "I'd like to strap a (tiny) camera to a player's head and an official's head. That would be tremendous. That's a direction we'd like to pursue." But in some areas, the "power of the CBS production team can be absolute -- which was on display when Louisville's Kevin Ware suffered the traumatic leg injury in Sunday's regional final victory against Duke." Fishman said "there was no debate" about showing more than two replays. He added, "Even if we had a closeup with a particularly gory angle, we wouldn't put it up." How CBS will handle Ware in Louisville's game against Wichita State on Saturday "is the big TV question going into Final Four coverage." Wolff said, "We're going to talk to the school to see what we can do with him on the pregame or the game coverage" (USA TODAY, 4/5). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Ware now is a "huge component of Louisville's story." CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus said, "Without getting too graphic, I would not expect to see footage of the leg breaking on CBS in the future. It's not necessary. It's not journalistically important now because we have told the story. I think we will move on from that footage" (JSONLINE.com, 4/4). In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht noted Ware "will be profiled" on CBS' "The Final Four Show" from 3:00-5:00pm ET on Saturday. Wichita State F Carl Hall, who "six years ago was told he would never play basketball again following a diagnosis of neuro-cardiogenic syncope, also is featured" (NEWSOK.com, 4/4).

RIGHT TO WORK: Blogger Ed Sherman conducted a Q&A with CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson, who was "about four feet" from Ware when the injury happened. Wolfson said of CBS finding a balance between getting the information and being respectful to the team, "CBS decided not to do any on-camera interview with the coaches at halftime like we normally do. Let's just talk to [Louisville coach Rick Pitino] off-camera. Let him regroup with his team and then see what he wants to say. If he didn't want to say anything, that's OK too." Sherman noted people have questioned the need for sideline reporters and asked, "Did your work Sunday provide a sense of validation?" Wolfson said, "It is in those situations where you need someone. I'm OK being that person who only steps into that role when it is necessary. I'm not someone who needs to be on the air six times a game because you have a reporter there and you have to put them on. We're all a team and I add to the broadcast." Sherman noted CBS does not use sideline reporters for regular-season NFL games and asked, "You work as a sideline reporter for CBS' college football game. How do you feel about that?" Wolfson: "I see the difference between college football and the NFL. Any relevant information, injury reports. In the NFL, a lot of that stuff goes directly to the booth. But you did see in the Super Bowl where you need them" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 4/3).

STORY OF CINDERELLA: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes there is a "wide [public] opinion that having a team from outside the marquee conferences playing in the national semifinals is an automatic television ratings killer for CBS." But two years ago when VCU and Butler met in the Final Four, "instead of killing viewership numbers, it did the opposite." It helped CBS’ rating for the two Saturday games "tie for the highest figure they had drawn in six years." Still, Wichita State "won’t be in the prime-time slot Saturday despite playing top seed Louisville." CBS "set that game for the early slot," while Michigan and Syracuse follow in the "marquee time slot." McManus said, "The Big 10 traditionally brings a lot of television homes into the equation. These are always subjective decisions and subjective calls." He added, "It’s not an exact science but that was the decision we made that we thought would make the most sense from a television standpoint" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/5).

LADIES' NIGHT: In New Orleans, Rachel Whittaker conducted a Q&A with ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Tina Thornton about coverage of the upcoming NCAA Women's Final Four. Thornton, on changes to this year's coverage, said, "One thing we are doing from a technology perspective is an art telestration system, which is something we developed here internally. ... We also use virtual hot zones and shot charts that you can put directly onto the court instead of just seeing them in a graphic of some kind." Thornton added, "We worked really hard this year with ESPNW ... and we were really one team this year looking at everything collectively, not two separate units. That was a real win for us" (NOLA.com, 4/3).
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