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Volume 24 No. 117
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CBS' Sean McManus Hoping Network Can Ride Tebow Phenomenom For A "Long Time"

The Broncos face the Patriots Saturday night in an AFC divisional playoff game, and CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said the "phenomenon of Tim Tebow ... is something that I haven’t seen in a long time." Last Sunday's Broncos-Steelers game was the most-watched Wild Card game on any network in 24 years and the highest-rated in 18 years. McManus said, “We thought that if the Broncos could keep it close, because that’s what everyone was hoping for, that we could do a really good rating. But nobody anticipated the kind of game we were going to get, nobody anticipated it obviously going into overtime, and whatever ratings projections we had were completely blown out of the water.” He said of Tebow, "The only sort of comparison I could make is when Tiger (Woods) burst onto the scene, he brought in people who had never watched a golf tournament before, who had maybe watched one golf tournament a year. All of a sudden he wasn’t just on the sports pages, he was on the front page of the newspaper. ... It is a phenomenon and when you have these things, whether it's a Tiger Woods or a Tim Tebow, as you know you sort of hang on and hope the ride lasts a long time.” McManus said the Tebow phenomenon "could end on Saturday night or it could go on for five more years, six more years, 10 more years." McManus: "That’s part of the excitement. ... Nobody has any idea what to expect. And the fact that he is, let’s face it, he’s a polarizing figure. There are people who like what he does after a touchdown, there are people who don’t like it. But the fact that he’s got so many elements and he’s found such an amazing way to perform on the field both badly and well make it just an unbelievably compelling story.” McManus refused to give a ratings projection for Saturday night's game, but he said, "If it’s a good game … I think we’re going to do another great number and have another memorable telecast. ... Brady against Tebow -- it’s sort of tough to imagine a better matchup this weekend then that” (“The Jim Rome Show,” 1/11).

: In Boston, John Zaremba writes Saturday's Broncos-Patriots game is a matchup between "two sports deities that could dwarf the whopping 42 million who watched the Broncos’ heart-stopping overtime win" over the Steelers. Marketing Evaluations Exec VP Henry Schafer said given Patriots QB Tom Brady’s past success and Tebow’s "attraction right now, coming from a lot of different angles, I would not be surprised if this becomes the highest-ever rated playoff game" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/12). In Colorado Springs, Frank Schwab notes KKTV-CBS GM Nick Matesi "couldn’t believe the preliminary local figures from last week’s game: a 37 rating" for Steelers-Broncos. That number "went up to a 41 rating" late in the game. Matesi said, "Those are Super Bowl numbers." He "laughed and said the station should have no problem selling any remaining advertising slots Saturday" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 1/12). Meanwhile, ESPN's "First Take" saw an average of 592,000 viewers tune in for Monday's episode, a new record for the two-hour show. "First Take" panelist Skip Bayless has become an outspoken supporter of Tebow during the last couple months (THE DAILY).

IMPACT ON '12 SCHEDULE: CBS' McManus noted the unknown around Tebow's future success could impact the '12 schedule. McManus said, "Let’s assume that (the Broncos) lose on Saturday night and he doesn’t play well -- the schedule makers next year, when you’re talking about how to feature the Denver Broncos, what do you do? Do you assume that it’s going to be the Tebow that we’ve seen win three overtime victories and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers or do you assume it’s going to be the Tebow against Kansas City? That’s what makes it so much fun and so much interesting to follow” ("The Jim Rome Show," 1/11). CJCL-AM's Greg Brady on his Twitter feed wrote, "Is the Tim Tebow phenomenon going to last? If you're NBC -- do you already want to book 3 primetime Sunday Night games involving Broncos?"