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CBS averaged a 9.4 fast-national Nielsen rating and 15.7 million viewers for the Final Four doubleheader on Saturday night, marking the best audience for the Final Four since '05. The doubleheader was up 4% and 3%, respectively, from a 9.0 rating and 15.3 million viewers last year. The Louisville-Wichita State matchup in the early primetime window earned an 8.7 rating and 14.5 million viewers, up 4% in both metrics compared to the Kentucky-Louisville matchup last year. In the late window, Michigan-Syracuse earned a 10.2 rating and 17.1 million viewers, up 6% and 3%, respectively, from Kansas-Ohio State last year. Through the Final Four, CBS and Turner Sports are averaging a 6.4 rating and 10.2 million viewers, marking the best average for the NCAA Tournament since '05 (CBS/Turner). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes, "No matter what happens in today's Michigan-Louisville NCAA title game, ratings for CBS/Turner men's basketball tournament coverage are set to finish ahead of last year's number" (USA TODAY, 4/8).
NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL FINAL FOUR RATINGS TREND ON CBSYEAR
EARLY GAMERAT. LATE GAMERAT.'13 Louisville-Wichita State8.7 Michigan-Syracuse10.2'12 Kentucky-Louisville8.4 Kansas-Ohio State9.6'11 Butler-VCU8.3 UConn-Kentucky9.5'10 Butler-Michigan State8.6 Duke-West Virginia9.2'09 Michigan State-Connecticut7.8 North Carolina-Villanova8.5'08 Memphis-UCLA7.2 Kansas-North Carolina8.8'07 Ohio State-Georgetown8.4 Florida-UCLA8.9'06 Florida-George Mason9.1 UCLA-LSU8.2'05 Illinois-Louisville10.0 North Carolina-Michigan State10.9'04 Georgia Tech-Oklahoma State8.3 Connecticut-Duke10.5
GOING OVERBOARD ON WARE? ADVANCE PUBLICATIONS' Scott Branson noted CBS "didn't let television viewers forget" about Louisville G Kevin Ware's broken leg. It is "great knowing Ware is in the building, in uniform and cheering for his team, but I'm not sure that it was necessary to remind viewers of his presence every single time there was a stoppage of play." Branson: "By my count (and I may have missed a few) CBS cut to a shot of Ware on the sideline in excess of 25 times." Meanwhile, it "seemed like every basket, block, charge call and timeout was met with ear-shattering cries from" CBS analyst Clark Kellogg (ADVANCE PUBLICATIONS, 4/7). Barstool Sports' David Portnoy wrote on his Twitter account, "The amount of airtime Kevin Ware is getting has moved from ridiculous to surreal to unbearable." SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote, "Wow, what a win for Louisville. Congrats to CBS player of the game Kevin Ware." ESPN's Dan Dakich sarcastically wrote, "Can't believe CBS hasn't cut to Kevin Ware watching this game." FoxSports.com's Jason Whitlock wrote, "Drink every time CBS says Ware or shows Ware. You'll be dead by halftime." The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Shandel Richardson wrote, "Lots of media criticizing CBS for showing too much Kevin Ware. Where was this reaction when the FGCU coach's wife was all over the screen?"
NOT A GOOD FIT: CBS had boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. on set between games Saturday night to promote his May 4 Showtime PPV bout against Robert Guerrero, and the net then ran a promotion for its April 27 documentary "Mayweather." The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre tweeted, "this boxing stuff is an absolute abomination. i know cross-promo but holy cow what the hell was CBS thinking? Absolute disaster." ESPN's Jemele Hill wrote, "Floyd Mayweather makes me wish Muse would play another song." SI's Stewart Mandel wrote, "So basically we had to wait an eternity for second game so CBS could give Floyd Mayweather an infomercial?" Univ. of Oklahoma SID Kenny Mossman wrote, "Floyd Mayweather. Wouldn't be a Final Four without him. This has been the strangest 10 minutes in televised sports history." But CSNNE.com's Rich Levine wrote, "Floyd Mayweather is still a much better basketball analyst than Reggie Miller."
OTHER OBSERVATIONS: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes now that CBS has "successfully encouraged" Kellogg to "hoot and holler about something -- anything -- as it cuts to commercials, perhaps it could successfully encourage him to stop." With WSU up seven over Louisville in the second half Saturday, there was "a pretty good chance viewers would stick -- even if Kellogg, rather than hollering at us, said nothing" (N.Y. POST, 4/8). Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Scott Fowler noted the rims were "so heavily miked on Saturday that every time the basketball hit one it sounded like heavy thunder in the distance" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/7).
MONEY MAKER: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted if Turner Sports exercises a clause in its contract with CBS to have TBS air the Final Four in '14, it would "mean Turner suits would have the right to select the broadcast teams." Would Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy "want to mess with the continuity" that Jim Nantz brings and his "strong association with the tournament?" Raissman: "He might." Levy could figure the Final Four is "going to be on cable, on TBS, until 2016 (then the two networks would alternate carrying it going forward) so why not carve out a new identity." Raissman: "Why would Turner exercise the clause now? Follow the money. The suits are currently negotiating with cable and satellite operators, looking to raise the carriage rate on TBS, which is in 100 million homes" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/7). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Amol Sharma noted analysts said that the move would "provide a big boost for Time Warner as it enters a round of negotiations next year with pay-television operators that carry its channels." The company has said that it expects Turner's "fee revenue from pay-TV providers to increase at a double-digit annual pace between" '13-16. RBC Capital Markets Managing Dir David Bank said adding the Final Four and championship game to its roster in '14 "would be a massive positive" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7).
SMOOTH STREAMING: Turner Sports Exec VP & COO Lenny Daniels said of digital trends throughout the NCAA Tournament, "Video streaming on tablets and other mobile devices have really grown. Over the first 2 weeks of the tournament, 67 minutes of video was viewed per user on mobile (tablets and smartphones), an increase of 59% vs the complete tournament last year. In addition, live video viewing on mobile continues to increase over the course of the tournament, rising from a 43% share on Mar 21 to a 68% share on Mar 31" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/8).
CHUCK WAGON: This week's episode of NBC's "SNL" featured an appearance by Charles Barkley, played by cast member Kenan Thompson, during the "Weekend Update" segment in which he talks to cast member Seth Meyers about doing analysis for the NCAA Tournament. Barkley said, “This tournament has been so exciting with so many surprises and unpredictable upsets and damn, if I haven’t lost so much money! I mean it’s terrible how much I owe these bookies. People thought it was bad that I do all these Weight Watchers commercials. Wait 'til you see Charles Barkley for Tampax.” Meyers noted, “Actually it’s surprising you did so badly. CBS hired you as an analyst for the tournament.” Laughing, Barkley said, “They must be crazy, right? I don’t know anything about college basketball. Wichita State? I didn’t even know Wichita was a state.” Barkley agreed with Meyers that he has to control his gambling habits and noted that “it’s gotten so bad that Michael Jordan told me that I gamble too much, and Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of gambling too much.” Barkley added, “This is my busy season, Seth. The NBA playoffs start in two weeks and they go for about 10 months. But then it all opens up for old Charles Barkley. I work on my autobiography. I’m going to start at Chapter 10 so I get done quicker” (“SNL,” NBC, 4/6).
ESPN earned a 1.9 overnight Nielsen rating for the UConn-Notre Dame women's Final Four game last night from 9:00-11:15pm ET, down 14% from a 2.2 overnight for the comparable Baylor-Stanford matchup last year. In the early window from 6:30-8:30pm, Louisville-Cal earned a 1.5 overnight, down 17% from Notre Dame-UConn last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
LEFT BEHIND: In DC, Martin Weil reported DC-based WUSA-CBS “switched away from a dramatic Nationals game” against the Reds at 4:00pm ET on Saturday to begin NCAA Tournament coverage, “apparently to some dismay.” WUSA President & GM Mark Burdett wrote in a statement on the station’s website that the move “upset a great many viewers who wanted to see the extra-inning finish,” which concluded at 4:40pm. The channel said that it “ran crawls telling viewers how they could continue to watch” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/7).
UNEQUAL TO THE TASK: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote MASN’s telecast on Friday of the Orioles’ home opener against the Twins was “nowhere near worthy of the play on the field.” For most of the game, the broadcast team of Gary Thorne, Jim Palmer and Mike Bordick “sounded flat, vague and self-congratulatory.” Thorne was “the worst -- at times, dead wrong in what he was telling viewers.” It was “particularly frustrating during the first four innings not to get more pitching insight with as unpredictable a pitcher on the mound as Orioles starter Jake Arrieta” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 4/5).
SKY FALLOUT: In Houston, David Barron noted NBC Sports Group on Wednesday “flew banners over AT&T and DirecTV offices in Southern California.” The first read, “Give Houston fans their Astros, Rockets and Dynamo” and the second gave the IWantCSNHouston.com website address. A “similar flyover” was scheduled to precede the Astros' game against the A’s on Friday (CHRON.com, 4/5).