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Kentucky’s upset win over Wichita State yesterday from 3:00-5:30pm ET drew a 7.9 overnight on CBS, marking the best figure for any CBS or Turner Sports game on the first Sunday of the NCAA men's basketball tournament since the current setup began in ’11. It also is the best overnight for that mid-Sunday NCAA tourney afternoon window in 22 years. Coverage before ’11 in the window was generally regionalized. The 7.9 overnight for Kentucky-Wichita State is up 10% from a 7.2 overnight for Indiana-Temple in the same window last year. CBS also drew a 7.5 overnight for Iowa State-North Carolina yesterday from 5:30-7:45pm, up 3% from Kansas-UNC last year. Meanwhile, the top tourney game yesterday on cable (all of which aired in primetime up against a bevy of original programming) was TNT’s Virginia-Memphis matchup with a 2.2 overnight from 8:45-11:15pm. TNT had the top overnight among all NCAA tournament games on cable during the second and third rounds with UNC-Providence on Friday from 7:30-9:45pm, which drew a 2.6 overnight (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
RECORD RUN: The tourney is averaging a 5.7 fast national rating and 8.8 million viewers through the first five days of coverage across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV, marking the best viewership through the first Saturday of the event since ’91, when it expanded to four telecast windows per day. Those figures are up 6% and 7%, respectively, from the same period last year. The four networks averaged a 6.1 rating and 10.0 million viewers for coverage of the third round on Saturday, marking the most-viewed first Saturday of the NCAA Tourney since ’93. Saturday’s audience was up 5% and 10%, respectively, from the same day last year (Turner/CBS).FOOT IN MOUTH: YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk noted CBS/Turner announcer Andrew Catalon "made a bad choice of words on Friday night," as he described Oklahoma State's foul strategy as "Hack-a-Polack." The reference was "made because Oklahoma State had just fouled Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski, who was born in Poland." Broadcast partner Mike Gminski "quickly said 'Hey now!' and cut Catalon off during the broadcast on TNT." Catalon seemed "awkward about the mistake and later made an apology during the game's garbage time" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/21). Catalon in an e-mail exchange with SI.com's Richard Deitsch said he did not realize the word he used is "considered a derogatory term." Catalon: "I'm ashamed and embarrassed to admit that, but in no way was I aware that I was making an insensitive or off-color remark. That's not who I am." He added, "It was very important to me that I apologized to him in-person. I immediately issued an apology on-air, but I wanted to meet with him face-to-face and apologize." Catalon said he hopes the incident "does not define me and people will see me for the person and broadcast that I have always been." Catalon called the two third-round games from Spokane Sunday, and CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said of the not disciplining Catalon, "He made a mistake. He realized he made a mistake. He immediately apologized on air. As soon as the game was over, he went and sought out the player and apologized to him and the coach. Everyone involved, as far as the principles in the occurrence, including the player and the guy who made the mistake, agreed it was a mistake and agreed to move on. And so did we" (SI.com, 3/24).
CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENT: SI.com's Deitsch notes CBS/Turner's switch of Clark Kellogg to the studio and Greg Anthony to the Final Four booth has "proved valuable for viewers." Kellogg is "steeped in the day-to-day storylines of college basketball and he's provided better balance alongside Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith." McManus said, "The move we made putting Clark in the studio and Greg out in the field has worked out as well as we hoped it would. The chemistry in the studio has been terrific" (SI.com, 3/24). McManus said that CBS was "pleased with the work of Kellogg and Anthony but believed a reversal of roles would suit each better." He added, "We thought Clark was so dynamic and so enthusiastic those qualities are probably better expressed in the studio" (NEWSDAY, 3/21). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Kellogg is "having a fine tournament as a studio-based analyst" (DENVER POST, 3/24).
TALENT REVIEWS: In Tampa, Tom Jones notes Anthony and CBS' Jim Nantz were "superb" calling yesterday's Kentucky-Wichita State game. This is their "first year calling games regularly together, but they've developed a nice chemistry, and that bodes well for Final Four weekend" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/24). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS' Jim Spanarkel, who "neither shouts not hollers, specializes in saying useful things." During Saturday's Michigan-Texas game, Spanarkel claimed Texas was "short on oxygen." He said, "There are a couple of guys out there who are waiting -- desperately -- for a timeout." Two seconds later, Texas "missed a shot, Michigan rebounded then out-ran Texas the other way to score a quick, easy layup" (N.Y. POST, 3/24). Mushnick wrote Turner's Rachel Nichols has been "pretty good with in-game info, now that she has removed 'me,' 'my,' and 'I' from her reports" (N.Y. POST, 3/23).
DON'T CRY FOR ME: USA TODAY's Nick Schwartz noted with Kansas losing late to Stanford, a "distraught" young KU fan was shown on CBS' broadcast, and as "tears streamed down his face, CBS zoomed in for an extended shot." After the game went final, cameras "showed the boy again live (he had stopped crying), and then replayed the shot of him crying." This "continued in the postgame show." Sad kids at games "have been a staple of broadcast coverage for years, but with the rise of social media ... is it now insensitive to do so?" (USATODAY.com, 3/23). The K.C. STAR noted the young KU fan "happens to be the son" of KU Assistant AD/Communications Chris Theisen. Theisen said that he was "not bothered by the fact that CBS focused on his son during the loss" (KANSASCITY.com, 3/23).
March Madness Live has surpassed 51 million live video streams through the first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, more than the total for the entire tournament last year and a new record for digital streaming of the event. The 51 million live streams are up 40% from a comparable point last year, and more than the 49 million live streams for the entire ’13 event, according to data from Turner Sports. March Madness Live also has generated more than 10.5 million hours of consumed video, up 6% from a year ago and also on a record pace. The most popular individual game remains the Dayton-Ohio State matchup from last Thursday afternoon, with about 4.6 million live streams. The game’s 12:15pm ET tip time marked the beginning of play Thursday, generally considered the full start of the tournament.
Two Pac-12 ADs said that most fans "misunderstand how much new money is being infused" into member schools via the conference TV deal, "in part, because there are costs and also, the notion that you're giving up old money to get new money," according to John Canzano of the Portland OREGONIAN. Canzano noted the conference TV deal was "originally reported as a windfall for conference members." He "pieced together an estimation of what the average Pac-12 institution might net on the new TV deal this year vs. old deal" based on data provided by the two ADs. The new ESPN/Fox contract alone "results in $17.3 million per school this year, but there are some costs here that reduce the bottom line." With costs factored in, each school's haul comes to around $4.3M "in new money for the average Joe Pac-12," not $21M or $30M that some reports speculate each school would receive (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/22).
QUACK, QUACK, MR. DUCKSWORTH: The OREGONIAN's Canzano noted the TV deal's immediate impact on Pac-12 schools "isn't as fruitful as the casual observer thinks," which "makes the ADs job harder as fans think all new departments should just break ground and build new shrines." The "bottom line" from the TV deal for the Univ. of Oregon is in the $2-3M ballpark, which is "not exactly a windfall" in the department's $95M budget. UO and other Pac-12 programs are "fighting the perception that they have a boatload of new money under the deal" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/23).
In Baltimore, Aaron Wilson reports Fox' Brian Billick "will no longer call games for the network" after "six years as a color analyst" on NFL broadcasts. Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell last night confirmed that Billick's expired contract "won't be renewed." Billick has not coached in the NFL since '07 and has "drawn solid reviews" for his TV and radio work. He "has contributed to NFL Network for several years and is expected to continue working for that network." The Big Lead yesterday "first reported that Billick wouldn't return this fall" (Baltimore SUN, 3/24).
CALABRO'S CALL: SI.com's Richard Deitsch reports ESPN Radio's Kevin Calabro "recently signed a multi-year extension to stay as the lead play-by-play voice of the NBA for the network." Calabro "will call regular-season, All-Star and playoff games for ESPN Radio and work with lead NBA analyst Jon Barry as well as PJ Carlesimo and Stan Van Gundy." Calabro last week said that he also will "have the opportunity to branch out into college basketball" (SI.com, 3/23).
MARINO REMAINS MUM: Agent Marvin Demoff said that his client, Dan Marino, "is still 'formulating' what he wants to do with his life" after being dropped by CBS on its "The NFL Today" pregame show. In Miami, Barry Jackson noted Marino "has refused to speak publicly" after the move. A job with the Dolphins "remains a possibility, though not a powerful one." Simply being Marino "is still profitable; he commands more than $100 per autograph, according to his firm" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/23).
ELLIOTT EYES NEW DEAL: In N.Y., Emily Smith cites sources as saying that Josh Elliott, the co-host of ABC's "GMA," "is demanding" $8M a year to stay with the net. He currently makes about $1.2M annually. Elliott also is "in talks with NBC to possibly jump ship and take on a role covering both news and sports there." A source said that since Elliott started at ESPN, his agents at CAA "have been actively talking to NBC about a part-news, part-sports role, like a younger Bob Costas" (N.Y. POST, 3/23).