CBS/Turner Draw Strong Opening Day NCAA Rating Despite Non-Compelling Finishes
CBS Sports and Turner Sports combined for a 5.9 overnight rating on Thursday for the opening day of the NCAA Tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and TruTV, marking the third highest-rated first Thursday since '91. Thursday's figure is up 5% from a 5.6 overnight for last year's coverage, but down 11% from a record-setting 6.6 in '15. The first day drew a 6.0 overnight in '14. All three windows throughout the day saw ratings increases. The early window (noon-4:15pm ET) drew a 4.4 rating, up 5% from '16, while the afternoon (2:45-7:00pm) was up 16% with its 5.7 overnight. The late window (6:45-10:00pm) saw a 9% increase over '16 with a 7.2 rating. Meanwhile, the NCAA's "March Madness Live" streaming service generated 29 million live video starts on Thursday, up 29% over last year (THE DAILY).
STAY CLASSY: In Boston, Chad Finn writes CBS/Turner added a "classy touch" to its broadcast on Thursday by adding a "Sager Strong" logo to its microphones instead of network logos. Finn also writes he would take Charles Barkley over "just about any other analyst in any sport." Finn: "I’m glad he’s part of this if only for the entertainment value, but let’s admit it: He’d spend more time preparing to play Lonzo Ball’s dad one-on-one than he does in learning about the teams in the tournament" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/17).
TALENT REVIEW: Social media chimed in on CBS/Turner's coverage of the tournament. FanRag Sports' Wendell Barnhouse tweeted he was "really glad" the net gave Debbie Antonelli a "shot at doing the analysis on the NCAA Tournament." Antonelli was "great" while calling games from Milwaukee on Thursday. Big Ten Network’s Mike Hall tweeted Lisa Byington, who was also working on Antonelli's crew in Milwaukee, is a "total pro." Hall: "Kudos to CBS/Turner for recognizing her talent." The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Jensen tweeted, "Verne Lundquist, who turns 77 in July, calling his 4th game of the day. I know that's the job, but he still nails it." But the AP’s Joedy McCreary tweeted, "Lundquist comes across as noticeably angry every time something does not go Bucknell’s way."
SNAP THE SHOT: ADWEEK's Lauren Johnson noted as part of Snapchat’s partnership with Turner, the app will "publish more than 30 'Our Stories' during the three weeks of games." Our Stories -- previously known as Live Stories -- are the "collections of live content collected at events." Each arena for the 64 participating schools will be "wrapped with themed geofilters that fans can lay on top of their photos and videos." The content will also "show 'the craziest' moments from games and include footage from inside the arenas and at parties and events on college campuses" (ADWEEK.com, 3/16).
ANOTHER NEW LOW: CBS on Sunday drew 4.88 million viewers for the NCAA Selection Show, marking the telecast's lowest audience on record. This year switched to a 90-minute format after CBS tried a two-hour telecast in '16. This year's selection show is down 7% from 5.25 million viewers last year, which was the previous all-time low (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).