Kentucky’s upset win over Wichita State yesterday from 3:00-5:30pm ET drew a 7.9 overnight on CBS, marking the best figure for any CBS or Turner Sports game on the first Sunday of the NCAA men's basketball tournament since the current setup began in ’11. It also is the best overnight for that mid-Sunday NCAA tourney afternoon window in 22 years. Coverage before ’11 in the window was generally regionalized. The 7.9 overnight for Kentucky-Wichita State is up 10% from a 7.2 overnight for Indiana-Temple in the same window last year. CBS also drew a 7.5 overnight for Iowa State-North Carolina yesterday from 5:30-7:45pm, up 3% from Kansas-UNC last year. Meanwhile, the top tourney game yesterday on cable (all of which aired in primetime up against a bevy of original programming) was TNT’s Virginia-Memphis matchup with a 2.2 overnight from 8:45-11:15pm. TNT had the top overnight among all NCAA tournament games on cable during the second and third rounds with UNC-Providence on Friday from 7:30-9:45pm, which drew a 2.6 overnight (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
RECORD RUN: The tourney is averaging a 5.7 fast national rating and 8.8 million viewers through the first five days of coverage across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV, marking the best viewership through the first Saturday of the event since ’91, when it expanded to four telecast windows per day. Those figures are up 6% and 7%, respectively, from the same period last year. The four networks averaged a 6.1 rating and 10.0 million viewers for coverage of the third round on Saturday, marking the most-viewed first Saturday of the NCAA Tourney since ’93. Saturday’s audience was up 5% and 10%, respectively, from the same day last year (Turner/CBS).FOOT IN MOUTH: YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk noted CBS/Turner announcer Andrew Catalon "made a bad choice of words on Friday night," as he described Oklahoma State's foul strategy as "Hack-a-Polack." The reference was "made because Oklahoma State had just fouled Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski, who was born in Poland." Broadcast partner Mike Gminski "quickly said 'Hey now!' and cut Catalon off during the broadcast on TNT." Catalon seemed "awkward about the mistake and later made an apology during the game's garbage time" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/21). Catalon in an e-mail exchange with SI.com's Richard Deitsch said he did not realize the word he used is "considered a derogatory term." Catalon: "I'm ashamed and embarrassed to admit that, but in no way was I aware that I was making an insensitive or off-color remark. That's not who I am." He added, "It was very important to me that I apologized to him in-person. I immediately issued an apology on-air, but I wanted to meet with him face-to-face and apologize." Catalon said he hopes the incident "does not define me and people will see me for the person and broadcast that I have always been." Catalon called the two third-round games from Spokane Sunday, and CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said of the not disciplining Catalon, "He made a mistake. He realized he made a mistake. He immediately apologized on air. As soon as the game was over, he went and sought out the player and apologized to him and the coach. Everyone involved, as far as the principles in the occurrence, including the player and the guy who made the mistake, agreed it was a mistake and agreed to move on. And so did we" (SI.com, 3/24).
CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENT: SI.com's Deitsch notes CBS/Turner's switch of Clark Kellogg to the studio and Greg Anthony to the Final Four booth has "proved valuable for viewers." Kellogg is "steeped in the day-to-day storylines of college basketball and he's provided better balance alongside Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith." McManus said, "The move we made putting Clark in the studio and Greg out in the field has worked out as well as we hoped it would. The chemistry in the studio has been terrific" (SI.com, 3/24). McManus said that CBS was "pleased with the work of Kellogg and Anthony but believed a reversal of roles would suit each better." He added, "We thought Clark was so dynamic and so enthusiastic those qualities are probably better expressed in the studio" (NEWSDAY, 3/21). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Kellogg is "having a fine tournament as a studio-based analyst" (DENVER POST, 3/24).
TALENT REVIEWS: In Tampa, Tom Jones notes Anthony and CBS' Jim Nantz were "superb" calling yesterday's Kentucky-Wichita State game. This is their "first year calling games regularly together, but they've developed a nice chemistry, and that bodes well for Final Four weekend" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/24). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS' Jim Spanarkel, who "neither shouts not hollers, specializes in saying useful things." During Saturday's Michigan-Texas game, Spanarkel claimed Texas was "short on oxygen." He said, "There are a couple of guys out there who are waiting -- desperately -- for a timeout." Two seconds later, Texas "missed a shot, Michigan rebounded then out-ran Texas the other way to score a quick, easy layup" (N.Y. POST, 3/24). Mushnick wrote Turner's Rachel Nichols has been "pretty good with in-game info, now that she has removed 'me,' 'my,' and 'I' from her reports" (N.Y. POST, 3/23).
DON'T CRY FOR ME: USA TODAY's Nick Schwartz noted with Kansas losing late to Stanford, a "distraught" young KU fan was shown on CBS' broadcast, and as "tears streamed down his face, CBS zoomed in for an extended shot." After the game went final, cameras "showed the boy again live (he had stopped crying), and then replayed the shot of him crying." This "continued in the postgame show." Sad kids at games "have been a staple of broadcast coverage for years, but with the rise of social media ... is it now insensitive to do so?" (USATODAY.com, 3/23). The K.C. STAR noted the young KU fan "happens to be the son" of KU Assistant AD/Communications Chris Theisen. Theisen said that he was "not bothered by the fact that CBS focused on his son during the loss" (KANSASCITY.com, 3/23).