truTV averaged a 1.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the two First Four games of the NCAA men's basketball championship last night from 6:30pm-12:00am ET. UNC-Asheville's defeat of Arkansas-Little Rock earned a 0.9 overnight from 6:30-9:30pm, with Clemson-UAB earning a 1.1 overnight from 9:45pm-12:00am. Last year's play-in game on ESPN featuring Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop earned a 0.8 overnight (THE DAILY). CABLEFAX DAILY notes things "get cooking for truTV later this week when it covers games featuring well-followed programs such as Duke and Syracuse." The "trick for truTV, however, will be to translate that increased exposure into new regular viewers" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 3/16). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley reported Time Warner Cable, the "largest cable TV carrier in Wisconsin," will make truTV "available in high definition on channel 1220 to its subscribers in time for Wisconsin's second-round NCAA Tournament game on Thursday." Both Wisconsin and Marquette's first tournament games are on truTV (JSONLINE.com, 3/15). Wolfley also noted Charter "added truTV high definition to its channel lineup" ahead of last night's games (JSONLINE.com, 3/15). In L.A., Diane Pucin notes in Orange County, Cox Communications "is offering TruTV in HD on Channel 792 through the NCAA tournament." Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy last week said the joint CBS-Turner coverage of the tournament is "far better" than CBS' solitary coverage. Pucin: "As long as you can find truTV" (L.A. TIMES, 3/16).
CHECKING LOCAL LISTINGS: Georgetown Friday plays the winner of tonight's USC-Virginia Commonwealth game, and Georgetown coach John Thompson III said, "We're trying to find out where we can see truTV. We have to find a venue to watch, and wherever that venue is may dictate the mood" (WASHINGTONEXAMINER.com, 3/15). ABC's Jimmy Kimmel during his monologue noted last night's games aired on truTV. Kimmel: "Nothing gets you ready for a basketball tournament like a six-hour marathon of 'Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura'" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 3/15). Meanwhile, in Houston, David Barron wrote his "first thought of the NCAA Tournament" is that truTV "needs some new promos by Wednesday night." Barron: "I'm already sick of the loud talker and the chest punchers" (CHRON.com, 3/15).
SETTING THE SCHEDULE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes scheduling the tournament this year is "simpler ... with all games aired in their entirety." But it is "not as simple as putting any game in any time slot." There are the "usual mandates to avoid overlapping games involving teams from the same regions." Thursday's BYU-Wofford game, which CBS will televise at 7:15pm ET, "might have been a good draw in CBS' later prime-time slot," but that "would have meant putting the other game in that Denver doubleheader -- St. John's-Gonzaga -- in the early slot." That "would have left St. John's overlapping with Connecticut, which CBS wanted to avoid because both have appeal in the Northeast." Hiestand notes scheduling "was a CBS-Turner collaboration." CBS Sports Exec VP/Programming Mike Aresco said "everybody got something, because the cumulative rating is what's being sold" to advertisers. CBS and Turner "likely will get lower game ratings" this year, but "higher overall viewership -- especially with brand names North Carolina, UCLA and Michigan that missed the tournament last year" (USA TODAY, 3/16).
AFFILIATES SUFFER: In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce writes if "anyone's getting the short end of the stick" under the new broadcast deal, "it's the local CBS affiliates." Salt Lake City's KUTV-CBS will televise St. John's-Gonzaga as opposed to Kansas State-Utah State, which will be played at the same time on truTV, and KUTV VP & GM Steve Carlston said, "We wish we had the Utah State game. But we are excited that we have the BYU game." Pierce notes St. John's-Gonzaga is "preferable to no game at all." Carlston: "I don't like it all. But the price of doing business got so high that we had to sublease the games so we could retain the rights instead of giving everything in the world to ESPN" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/16). In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff noted Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State "will be spread across the new NCAA Tournament dials," and none of their opening games "will be televised on" KCTV-CBS. KCTV VP & GM Bobby Totsch: "Do we wish we had all their (opening round) games? Absolutely. But we've known for a year that this was a possibility" (K.C. STAR, 3/15).
CAN YOU IMAGINE IF GUS DID THAT? During truTV’s coverage of UNC-Asheville's victory last night over Arkansas-Little Rock, ESPN’s Bill Simmons criticized the announcers' tone, tweeting, “Sorry Jim Nantz - a #16 tying a #16 on a 3 w/ 10 secs left in a bogus play-in game doesn't mean ‘March Madness is under way!!!’ Settle down.” In response to Simmons, CBS announcer Seth Davis posted on Twitter, “Lame!” SI’s Richard Deitsch added, “Bill Simmons Twitter-smacks Jim Nantz for over-hyping First Four. Seth Davis responds by calling the shot ‘lame.’ God, I love March Madness” (TWITTER.com, 3/15).
CLASSIC ROCK: Turner Sports, which runs NCAA.com, and Denver-based Thought Equity Motion, which manages the NCAA's archives and the NCAA Vault, have reached an agreement to share their assets. Turner will be using Thought Equity's video management platform and publishing tools to move digital content from previous NCAA tournaments into editorial and social features at NCAA.com. The clearest use of the archives will be evident in the Classic 68 Bracket, which launched this week. It allows fans to vote on their favorite moments in NCAA tournament history and each winning highlight will advance through the bracket until a winner emerges. "The content that we're streaming to Turner Sports will help make NCAA.com a year-round destination for college sports enthusiasts," said Thought Equity Motion CEO & Founder Kevin Schaff. "We're bringing more classic NCAA video online for fans to search and share" (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).