Second-round NCAA Tournament play on Thursday averaged a 6.0 overnight rating across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, marking the best opening Thursday for the tournament in 23 years. The rating is up 3% from a 5.8 figure in ‘13. The early primetime window was the top of the day with a 7.7 overnight, up 4% from a 7.4 in ’13, thanks to three games that went to OT. Meanwhile, the second daytime telecast window, from 2:45-7:15pm ET scored a 5.4 overnight, the second-highest rating for that slot since ‘91. The first daytime telecast, which featured Dayton's last-second upset of Ohio State, garnered a 4.6 rating, up 12% from last year. The overall tournament rating of 5.6, which includes the First Four, is up 8% from a 5.2 figure last year (CBS/Turner).
MAKE ROOM FOR BABY, AND THE 1ST TEAM: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes CBS/Turner's No. 1 broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Greg Anthony will be "on center stage" Friday in St. Louis, calling the four games scheduled for Scottrade Center. Nantz and Anthony "have been paired just twice" during the season, and "not since December." However, Nantz made sure to fit the two games into his fall schedule, which includes weekly NFL work, "so they wouldn’t come in cold for the NCAA event." Nantz: "As hard as it is to do a college basketball game on a Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor and a football game in Miami on Sunday during the stretch drive toward the NFL playoffs ... I really wanted to get a couple of reps in with Greg. I committed to it early." Caesar notes Nantz' wife "had a healthy daughter last week," and Anthony's wife "is expecting to have a girl next Friday." Because of that, Anthony "might have to do some schedule juggling next weekend." He said, "I’ve been at the birth of all (three of) my children and that’s still the plan here. We’re hoping she decides to either come a little early or a little late in a perfect world" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/21).
CATALON CATCHING ON: CBS' Andrew Catalon is calling his first NCAA tourney this weekend, and CBS Sports President David Berson said, "He’s very well prepared, very likeable and calls a great game. He is certainly a rising star in our business." In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes Catalon last June left Albany-based WYNT-NBC and "signed full-time with CBS Sports Net to call Mountain West Conference football and basketball." He had by then "already impressed the bosses on some regional NFL games for CBS." The net "put him on regular trips West to do a handful of college basketball games with some national importance, including Oregon’s upset of Arizona in the final weekend of Pac-12 regular-season games" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/21). CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said of Catalon, "He has a good call, a good sense of humor, plays very well off of the analyst. Most of the play-by-play guys make their analysts better. He's unselfish in terms of not being afraid to let the analyst play a dominant role sometimes. He's quick, and he's got a pleasant but good play-by-play call. He's earnest. He wants to get better. He works hard. He's always prepared. He's got all of the qualifications that you want in an up-and-coming future star" (Albany TIMES-UNION, 3/21).
THE PERFECT PAIR: TIME.com's Sean Gregory profiled CBS’ Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery, who are calling their 15th NCAA tournament as a pair this year, and asked, “What’s better than two older gentlemen … who have built a comfort level with each other that translates into the living room?” CBS’ Ian Eagle has studied the pair and said, “It’s about camaraderie, chemistry, they genuinely like each other. And that shows up on the air. Verne is fully engaged in the event that he’s covering. … Bill is the person, on the air, who he is off the air. He’s not playing a role.” Gregory wrote Raftery “breaks the game down like a surgeon, but in a layman’s language” and has been known for years as “one of the hardest working, most prepared broadcasters in the business.” But he is “also the nutty uncle you want to hang out with” (TIME.com, 3/20). The pair called the four games played in Buffalo Thursday, and Lundquist beforehand said that the start of the tourney represents his "longest broadcast day of the year, 'and nothing else even comes close." Lundquist: "But it’s such an exciting time of year.'" Raftery said of CBS and Turner, "Everybody’s been very happy with the synergy between the two networks. We’ve really become friendly with a lot of their people. I’m not just talking on air, but the production people, it’s really like hand and glove right now. We feel part of a nice team" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/19).
DREADED GLITCH AWARD: AD AGE's Tim Peterson noted the Yahoo Sports website "went down" Thursday, one of the "year's biggest sports days." Yahoo "acknowledged the problem on Twitter a half hour before March Madness tipped off." Since most people are "stuck following the opening day's games from their office computers," the day is "typically a traffic win for sites like Yahoo Sports." While Yahoo was "sidelined, those people may have turned elsewhere, meaning Yahoo may not reap as much ad revenue as expected" (ADAGE.com, 3/20).