CBS Cuts Away From Sony Open Tennis Final To Begin NCAA Tournament Regional Final
There were “thousands [of] tennis fans at home” watching the Sony Open men’s final between Andy Murray and David Ferrer who “didn't get to see the decisive tiebreaker as CBS-TV pulled an NBC-like 1968 Heidi Bowl move by shifting the match to Tennis Channel" to show the start of the Michigan-Florida NCAA Tournament Elite Eight game, according to Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Tournament Dir Adam Barrett in a statement said, “Although we wish the match could have been shown in its entirety we understand that these situations arise” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/1). Murray said, "It's obviously a shame that people didn't get to see the end of what I think was a pretty exciting match. But that's the way it goes sometimes.” Barrett said that CBS officials “had a commitment to show basketball.” Barrett: "They stayed with our match for as long as possible, forgoing their pre-NCAA tournament coverage and delaying the start of the Michigan-Florida tipoff in an attempt to complete its broadcast of the match.” The AP's Steven Wine notes the Sony Open's contract with CBS “expires this year,” and the event “does not yet have a signed TV deal for 2014” (AP, 4/1). A CBS spokesperson said that the net "pushed up the tip-off of the basketball game to 2:23 PM, and the tip-off didn't actually occur until 2:24 PM." The net said that it "made the switch to Tennis Channel at the last possible moment -- 2:17 PM -- in an attempt to accommodate both events, but that it needed a five-minute transition so it could not stay with the tennis match." The net added that it is the "tournament's decision to start the final at 11 EST next year to possibly avoid conflict with Elite Eight games." Meanwhile, TENNIS.com's Matt Cronin reported ESPN "did not want to take the option of broadcasting the rest of the men's final if it went over its alloted time," which explains why Tennis Channel aired the end of the match (TENNIS.com, 3/31). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes viewers “could blame CBS for bad scheduling,” but the Murray-Ferrer match was “the longest of the tournament” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/1).