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Volume 24 No. 117
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Close Finishes, Upsets Help NCAA Tourney's First Sunday To Best Rating In 24 Years

CBS and Turner combined for a 7.8 overnight rating yesterday for coverage of the NCAA Tournament, marking the best first Sunday for the event in 24 years. That figure is up 26% from a 6.2 rating for the comparable Sunday last year. To date, CBS and Turner are averaging a 6.3 rating for coverage of tourney games, marking the second-best figure for the event through the first two rounds since it expanded in '91. The 6.3 overnight is up 7% from last year. Meanwhile, March Madness Live yesterday saw 13 million streams, up 66% from the same day last year (Karp & Carpenter, THE DAILY).'s Nellie Andreeva noted CBS "drew a younger but smaller crowd with its NCAA Tournament coverage than it does with its regular Friday drama lineup." The net won the night in adults 18-49, up 36% from last week, when it "aired drama originals, and it was No. 1 for the night in that metric by a wide margin." But CBS' total viewership shrunk 45% for a "rare No. 2 finish on the night behind ABC" (, 3/18).

ON THE CALL: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes CBS' lead crew of Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery yesterday had a "fantastic day" calling Michigan-Louisville and Kentucky-Wichita State. Nantz did a "splendid job giving space to Hill and Raftery and, even better, Hill and Raftery never stepped on one another." However, Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel "still are CBS's best crew" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/20). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS and Turner continue to "short-change shots of Tournament postgame handshake lines, instead cutting to useless crowd shots and updated brackets graphics." Meanwhile, sideline reporter Allie LaForce "can expect curt answers from intemperate coaches ... until she learns how to ask decent questions." Mushnick: "Silly questions provoke silly answers" (N.Y. POST, 3/20). Meanwhile, Mushnick wrote Spanarkel during Thursday's broadcast of Notre Dame-Princeton on CBS "calmly and concisely gave a complete rundown of contingencies, a useful overview on what to expect" as the game ended. Spanarkel "kept his and our eyes and mind on the game" (N.Y. POST, 3/19).

MINOR PROBLEMS?'s Richard Deitsch wrote some viewers thought there was "exploitative behavior by CBS Sports" during coverage of Gonzaga's win against Northwestern on Saturday. Complaints were made about the broadcast "showing repeated shots of 11-year-old John Phillips, the son of Northwestern AD Jim Phillips." John Phillips was in "near tears over Northwestern losing late in the second half." In response to a question via Twitter, YES Network writer Seth Rothman said: “Showing the poor kid after every basket felt cruel. It’s asking the Internet to make fun of him.” ESPN executive producer Lee Fitting added: “Show a couple times and be done with it.” Deitsch: "In my dealings with CBS Sports producers and directors, I’ve always found them to be a thoughtful lot. They are not the exploitative type." In this case however, they should "err on the side of caution when it comes to using a kid's image to hype the drama, even if the kid is the child of an athletic department staffer" (, 3/19). NBC’s “Today” this morning also showed the footage of Phillips' son, and Matt Lauer said, "This young guy made it on national television a bunch of times throughout the game -- crying, yelling, waving -- all while watching his team get defeated." Lauer said of the emotional outbursts from the son, “I have been there” (“Today,” NBC, 3/20).

TAKE IT DOWN: In K.C., Pete Grathoff notes a video of Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall’s wife, Lynn, at yesterday's Kentucky-WSU game "made the rounds on Twitter and raised some eyebrows." The video was shot by Kentucky Sports Radio's Drew Franklin, and "shared on Twitter." It "showed an upset Lynn Marshall," and Franklin wrote he later was "told by 'someone from the NCAA' to remove the video" (K.C. STAR, 3/20). 

GOING WORLDWIDE: In N.Y., Matt Fortuna noted Dayton games for the second year were called in Mandarin Chinese for "broadcasts distributed on the university's athletics website." The school has a "rotating case of five broadcasters" who call games in Mandarin. The broadcast, which is in its second year at Dayton, is Dayton Assistant AD/Multimedia Michael LaPlaca's "brainchild, the product of an initiative by a university looking to engage more with the international students on campus." When the program started before last season, UD "estimated that its enrollment of about 11,000 included more than 600 Chinese students" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/18). 

BLACKED OUT: In Charlotte, Mark Washburn noted locally based WBTV-CBS "remained dark on AT&T U-verse cable" as games began Friday. Raycom Media, which owns the channel and runs 62 other TV stations, has been "unable to come to terms with AT&T on how much the cable company will pay to carry Raycom stations in 23 cities, including Charlotte." Each side "blames the other in dispute" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/18).