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Volume 24 No. 159
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CBS Earns 13.3 Overnight For National Championship Game, Down 17% From '10

CBS earned a 13.3 overnight Nielsen rating for UConn’s 53-41 defeat of Butler in the NCAA men's basketball national championship game last night, down 16.9% from a 16.0 overnight for Duke-Butler last year. However, UConn-Butler is up 11.8% from an 11.9 overnight for North Carolina-Michigan State in ’09. Indianapolis led all metered markets last night with a 49.2 local rating, followed by Hartford-New Haven with a 28.8 rating. CBS did not win the night in primetime, finishing with a 10.0 rating, second behind ABC’s 13.1 in primetime for “Dancing With The Stars” and “Castle.” CBS and Turner for the entire tournament averaged a 7.2 overnight rating, up 9% from a 6.6 overnight last year, when CBS was the sole broadcaster. This marks the best tournament average since '05 (THE DAILY).

NO HOLDING BACK: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase noted CBS' studio set analysts "ripped" both teams during halftime "with a vigor rarely seen by commentators on a network airing a big game." Butler held a 22-19 lead at halftime, and CBS' Greg Anthony said, "First of all, I'm gonna be honest: This is the worst half of basketball I've ever seen in a national championship game." CBS' Seth Davis added, "It's almost like these two teams are competing to see which can play worse. ... This is a very bad showcase for a national championship game for college basketball." TNT's Charles Barkley added, "That was an awful half of college basketball." Chase wrotes fans "never hear analysts rip a game on their own network that badly, let alone one that's at halftime." The "bashing won't draw ... much outrage, mainly because it was mostly accurate," but it "couldn't have pleased CBS executives who need the casual fans to stick with the game in order to boost the ratings" (, 4/4). In Dallas, Richie Whitt writes, "Give credit to CBS' panel of analysts, none of whom was afraid to pan a horribly played game" (, 4/5).'s Brian Lowry writes announcers "normally are taught to make the game they're calling sound exciting," but that "went out the window early in the second half." Lowry: "Hype sailed away, and a refreshing gust of honesty came blowing in." Butler went just 12 for 64 from the field, and CBS analyst Clark Kellogg referred to the team's shooting as "unparalleled ineptitude." Analyst Steve Kerr added, "I've never seen anything like it" (, 4/5).

FOUR ON THE FLOOR: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes the tournament through Saturday had drawn more viewers "than in any year since 2005, which makes sense," as "for the first time, four networks -- CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV -- have been carrying the tournament, instead of just CBS." The four networks "vigorously cross-promoted the tournament, much as NBC and its corps of networks ... have elevated viewer awareness during the Olympics." Former Magna Global Exec VP/Audience Analysis Steve Sternberg in an e-mail said, "There's no question that airing anything on four networks will get you more viewers than airing it on one network, particularly when there are multiple teams, each with their own fans." But CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said the ratings are "higher than we thought." McManus: "Anytime you promote your event to a different and wider audience, you have the potential of attracting more viewers." Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy added that "carrying each game nationally ... built story lines better." He "theorized that Virginia Commonwealth's run from the First Four to the Final Four ... might not have created the same national interest if most of its games had been regionalized" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5).

: In DC, Tracee Hamilton wrote this year's tournament was "one of the best in recent memory precisely because the NCAA chose to limit the field to 68." Tournament ratings in the first year of the 68-team field were up more than 9% entering last night, and if airing all of the games "on four networks garners those numbers, think about what adding an extra layer or two would do." But if the field is expanded to 96 teams, "chances are teams like VCU will have to go straight from a conference tournament to the equivalent of play-in games while the big boys get byes" (, 4/4).

BARBECUE BATTLE: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' R. Thomas Umstead reports Turner has "teamed with reality series production company Original Media ... to create a new barbecue-cooking special, 'Ultimate Barbecue Showdown,' which will air on CBS in May" as part of the tournament partnership. Turner Senior VP/NCAA Partnerships & Branded Programming Will Funk said that "four award-winning barbecue cooking experts will square off in a elimination competition series to determine which is best in the country." Turner has "already secured charcoal company Kingsford as the sponsor for the event" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 4/4 issue).