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Volume 24 No. 160
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CBS, TBS Earn Highest Ratings For Thursday Sweet Sixteen Games Since '93

CBS' and TBS' coverage of Thursday's NCAA men's basketball tournament Sweet Sixteen games averaged an 8.6 overnight Nielsen rating, up 28% from a 6.7 in '10, when the four games all aired on CBS. The 8.6 rating is the highest for the Thursday Sweet Sixteen games since a 9.0 mark in '93. Thursday's first broadcast window, which saw UConn beat San Diego State on CBS and Florida defeat BYU in overtime on TBS, earned an 8.5 rating, up 37% from a 6.2 last year. The night's second window, which featured Arizona upsetting No. 1 seed Duke on CBS and Butler defeating Wisconsin on TBS, earned a 8.7 rating, up 21% from '10 (THE DAILY).

UConn-San Diego State CBS 7:00-9:30pm 4.8
Arizona-Duke CBS 9:45pm-12:00am 6.0
Florida-BYU TBS 7:15-9:45pm 3.7
Butler-Wisconsin TBS 10:00pm-12:30am 2.7

CHARLES IN CHARGE: In California, John Maffei writes it was a "huge gamble to have two studio shows" -- one hosted by CBS' Greg Gumbel and the other by TNT's Ernie Johnson, but last weekend it "worked, partly because Charles Barkley was extremely entertaining as an analyst." Barkley "did his homework on the college game, and it showed as he bantered with Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith." His "rants against the Big East and the conference's 11 tournament teams were great," and he "didn't back down when Louisville coach Rick Pitino joined the show after his Cardinals ... were eliminated in their first game" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/25). Syndicated radio host Don Imus said he "likes the addition” of Johnson, Barkley and Smith to CBS/Turner’s pregame and halftime shows. He said Gumbel "is a lovely guy," Anthony is "another lovely fellow” and Davis is "fine, but there's just no personality and nothing happens.” With the addition of Barkley and Smith, "now that thing's on fire." CBS’ Jim Nantz, who appeared on Imus’ show, said, "In defense of my guys, Greg is as smooth as they come in the studio, and that's what he's there to do. It’s a very difficult thing technically to work through all these games ... and no one does it better than he does. Seth and Greg Anthony are both are very, very knowledgeable basketball men and their knowledge has shown during this tournament. This is not 'Dancing With The Stars' when you come on at halftime. You have to service the basketball fan with information." Imus: "You're awfully defensive about all of this. All I'm saying, it wasn't entertaining to watch for the millions of people who don't care about the minutiae" ("Imus in the Morning," Fox Business, 3/25).

TIME TO CHUCK IT: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes aside from his "lack of knowledge about the college game and inability to speak intelligently about players, coaches and conferences, Barkley has already revealed enough" to the point where Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy said that "it 'was wrong' for him to be included in the NCAA Tournament selection show and that won't happen again." Hoffarth notes what the "pre-, post- and halftime shows" have done is "further expose Barkley, who sometimes looks asleep as he gazes into his desk monitor, and not put him in any sort of situation to do what he does best -- ramble on and on about nothing in particular" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/25).

FAN FAVORITES: is running a poll to determine readers' favorite NCAA tournament play-by-play announcer, game analyst, studio host and studio analyst. Gus Johnson at presstime had garnered 35% of the 10,958 votes cast for game announcer, followed by Nantz. Bill Raftery, who is calling the West Regional with Verne Lundquist, has 39% of the 7,556 votes cast for favorite game analyst. Gumbel is edging out Johnson as favorite studio host, taking 43% of 7,049 votes compared to 36% for Johnson. Barkley is easily winning the favorite studio host category, as his 38% of 8,498 votes is more than double that of Davis, who is in second place (, 3/24).

THE VOICE OF A GENERATION: Johnson appeared on "The Jim Rome Show" Thursday prior to calling the Southeast Regional games and said he wants his calls to "come organically." Johnson noted he thinks about some of the possible catchphrases he might use during a game, but “not before I get there.” Johnson: “I think about situations. If I watch a great movie or hear a great song, my thing is I like to try to blend all of my experiences into my work. ... I mentally check them off in my mind, and then when something happens in the game and it resembles what I've already thought about, then it just comes out.” He added, “I've never written anything down. That's not my thing. ... I think the most important thing is to match the rhythm and the sound of the game." Johnson, who has become an Internet sensation in recent years for some of his calls, said he does not feel any pressure broadcasting a game. He said, “I can't watch myself at the same time that I'm working, so I don't have a chance to really experience what the viewer is experiencing at home. I experience what the fan in the stands is experiencing. The only thing that I try to convey is what's going on with the energy in the building and on the floor” (“The Jim Rome Show,” 3/24).

YESSSSS, AND IT COUNTS! In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes announcer Marv Albert, who will call the Southwest Regional games for TBS and CBS on Friday and Sunday, is "still the best" after "all these years, all these TV and radio networks, all these local TV and radio stations, and all these sports and games and bouts and matches." Mushnick: "Albert works off the rhythm of games; he gets it -- when to turn it on, when to down-shift, when to have fun, when to be serious, when to lean on the analyst, when to poke at the analyst, when to speak, when to shout, when to allow TV to tell the tale without his help" (N.Y. POST, 3/25).

CAPITALIZING ON THE TIMING: The website for youth basketball initiative iHoops has recorded the four highest-trafficked days in its history since the beginning of the tournament (iHoops).