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Volume 24 No. 155
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To The Fourth Power: NCAA Tourney Overnights Up 24% Over Last Year

The second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament averaged a 5.7 overnight Nielsen rating across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV Thursday, marking the best overnight for the first Thursday of the event since '91, when the tournament expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day. The 5.7 overnight is also up 24% from a 4.6 rating for CBS' coverage last year. Each window Thursday saw year-over-year overnight ratings gains.

% +/-

TOP GAMES: CBS' telecast of BYU-Wofford at 7:00pm earned a 3.5 overnight, which led all NCAA games. truTV's top overnight was for the Wisconsin-Belmont game at 7:15pm, which earned a 0.9 overnight rating. The late window telecasts led TBS and TNT yesterday, with TBS' UCLA-Michigan State earning a 1.8 overnight, while TNT's Cincinnati-Missouri earned a 1.2 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

West Virginia-Clemson
Gonzaga-St. John's
Butler-Old Dominion
Pittsburgh-UNC Asheville
Kansas State-Utah State
Morehead State-Louisville
Florida-UC Santa Barbara
UCLA-Michigan State
Temple-Penn State
San Diego State-Northern Colorado

DIAPER DANDY: In Houston, David Barron writes things "couldn't have gone better for CBS and Turner on the first afternoon of their NCAA Tournament partnership." The spacing of games across the four networks "was sufficient that you could get by well enough with one TV and particularly well with a TV and a March Madness on Demand broadband connection." It appeared that the "only technical glitch" on the first full day of tournament coverage came during the opening games, when truTV "cut to about 30 seconds of 'Family Guy' on TBS during a commercial" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes, "The new normal in NCAA TV has arrived. And it's about time." CBS and Turner Sports aired each game nationally for the first time, "finally turning NCAA TV into regular TV, and the next step might be to create an NFL RedZone-like channel devoted to constantly switching viewers to the best action" (USA TODAY, 3/18). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes the "performance was smooth" on the opening day. The "strip across the top of the screen that lists the scores of other games in progress and what network they're on is helpful," and so is "having the logo of the network flash when a close game on another outlet is winding down." Caesar: "Another bonus was widespread coverage of late afternoon games, which didn't exist under the old system. ... So far, so good" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/18). But in California, John Maffei notes there "seemed to be a bit of a picture-quality issue from CBS to TNT, TBS and truTV." Maffei: "Could be the venues, could be the networks, but I noticed that CBS had a better-quality picture" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/18).

THE MORE, THE MERRIER: On Long Island, Neil Best writes, "By partnering with Turner and expanding the event to four channels from one, CBS eliminated what had been the most thankless job in sports television: Deciding when and where to send viewers during the frenzied early days of the tournament." CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said yesterday, "There is infinitely less pressure in doing this, absolutely." Announcers were instructed to "remind viewers of good games on other channels, and late in a close game, the logo of the relevant network began to flash on the live scoreboard." But there also was "some flexibility to show brief, late-game action from elsewhere." Best notes three of the four channels "showed Butler's buzzer-beating game-winner live" (NEWSDAY, 3/18). Freelance journalist Kyle Stack tweeted, “Announcers on CBS, TruTV doing a good job updating viewers on games occurring on other networks.” But DirecTV’s Andrew Siciliano tweeted, “Even with 4 networks, you still have to watch on the computer if you truly don't want to miss anything” (, 3/17). In California, Jim Carlisle writes, "The beauty of this setup -- if there is beauty to be found -- is that every game is now shown nationally in its entirety" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 3/18). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "First day of the NCAA's on four networks? Fine. Make your own salad/buzzer beater. Instead of waiting for CBS to switch games, it was left to us to switch channels" (N.Y. POST, 3/18). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote under the header, "NCAA Tourney On TV Clicks Along Fine." The choice of which game to watch "now belongs to the viewer, and not to a CBS director or producer." At first view, the "top scoreboard, which had the same look on all four channels, seemed intrusive," but "after a while it seemed less so" (, 3/17). In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes the "TV suits are right" to say that "flipping to a cable channel -- or not having cable at all -- isn't that big a deal, since all the games are available online for free" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/18). In DC, Tracee Hamilton reviews the coverage under the header, "Four Channels, One Remote, A Bracket And One Tired Thumb" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/18).

Writer feels Barkley adds "much-needed edge"
to Turner's New York studio show

BREAKING DOWN THE ANALYSTS: USA TODAY's Hiestand writes Charles Barkley, "one of the Turner NBA announcers added to NCAA coverage, brought a much-needed edge to its New York studio show from the get-go." He said that it was "really unfair Clemson had a short turnaround from its Tuesday game to its tip at noon ET Thursday, it was a disgrace for Tennessee's athletics director to publicly question coach Bruce Pearl's job security on the tournament's eve, and the Big East was the most overrated league" (USA TODAY, 3/18). The NORTH COUNTY TIMES' Maffei writes while Barkley "can be a bit ridiculous at times, there is no question he's knowledgeable and entertaining" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/18). NEWSDAY's Best notes it "didn't take long for Barkley to be Barkley" on Thursday. McManus said of his performance, "I don't cringe; I listen carefully. I am prepared to perhaps cringe. But I haven't yet" (NEWSDAY, 3/18). The HOUSTON CHRONICLE's Barron writes for "all the pre-Tournament attention paid to Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith was the most effective analyst" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18). In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote, "Nothing’s better than Barkley, but the truTV halftime with Matt Winer setting up Seth Davis, Steve Smith and Tom Crean was solid. Good insight, nice pace, like they’d done it before this week" (, 3/17). But in N.Y., Peter Vecsey writes CBS and Turner Sports took Barkley and Kenny Smith "away from the environs where they ought to have a clue but don't and put them into one where they admittedly are oblivious" (N.Y. POST, 3/18). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Bob Raissman writes CBS and Turner "need Dick Vitale," who is "college hoops' most recognizable voice" but has never called an NCAA tournament game. Raissman: "The CBS/Turner broadcast partnership should not permanently exclude Vitale" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/18).

LOSING OUT? BROADCASTING & CABLE's Michael Malone noted with CBS splitting its coverage with truTV, TNT and TBS, "viewers in several markets are having trouble finding the games." CBS' affiliate in Cincinnati, WKRC, is scheduled to air "just one first-round game involving the four teams of local interest (Xavier, U. Cincinnati, Ohio State and Kentucky)." The network had received "around 100 calls by Wednesday afternoon, with a much larger flood expected closer to tip-off for the various games." WKRC VP & GM Les Vann: "Some viewers have never heard of the Turner networks and don't understand what happened." Malone noted GMs at several CBS affiliates are "disappointed that the new contract with Turner no longer allows the so-called 'home-school rule' to exist, denying stations access to their local games of interest" (, 3/17). Broadcasting & Cable’s Ben Grossman: “CBS affils are starting to hear it from viewers who can't find local team's games.” San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami: “What took longer: Louisville to score a point vs. Moorehead St or me to find the channel it's on... winner: ME! (6:22 into the game. Wow.)” (, 3/17).

GETTING TO THE TRUTH: truTV averaged a 0.8 U.S. rating and 1.142 million viewers for coverage of the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday night, according to Nielsen fast-national data. Wednesday night’s doubleheader averaged a 0.7 U.S. rating and 1.014 million viewers, compared to a 0.8 rating and 1.268 million viewers for Tuesday night’s doubleheader. The UTSA-Alabama State game in the early window on Wednesday finished with a 0.5 rating and 786,000 viewers from 6:30-9:06pm ET, while the late window featuring VCU-USC earned a 0.8 rating and 1.253 million viewers. By comparison, truTV averaged 1.195 million viewers last week for its block of programming on Tuesday and Wednesday night from 6:30pm-12:00am. The net's Wednesday night block during that window last week averaged 1.179 million viewers, which consisted of eight episodes of "Operation Repo" and one episode each of "Cops" and "TruTv Presents: World's Dumbest" (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).