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Volume 26 No. 47
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NCAA Tourney Sees Big Ratings Uptick During Opening Week

Duke-UCF drew a big overnight rating for CBS in the late Sunday window
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NCAA Tournament through the second round is having its second-best overnight rating since ’91, when the tourney expanded to its current TV format. Games across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV are averaging a 6.4 overnight, second only to a 6.7 in ’15 during that time frame. The ’19 tourney to date also is up 8% from a 5.9 at the same point last year. The window yesterday from 5:15-9:00pm ET, led by Duke-UCF, drew an 11.9 overnight, marking that Sunday window’s second-best mark in 29 years, behind only a 12.1 in ’17. The increase for CBS and Turner Sports over the weekend comes despite a big uptick for cable news around the release of the Mueller Report. Looking at yesterday alone, the combined rating for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC from 12:00-8:00pm ET was up 38% compared to the first Sunday of the tourney last year. From 8:00-11:00pm, the cable news nets saw a 17% uptick. Meanwhile, the March Madness Live digital platform has seen record levels for live streams and live hours consumed to date. Official March Madness accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also are up 56% through the first weekend of the tourney (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

CALLING IT LIKE IT IS: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Jay Rigdon wrote CBS/Turner rules analyst Gene Steratore "has been solid overall" in his first tournament. The former NFL and NCAA basketball official has explained things "quickly and clearly, without being afraid to disagree with the in-game officials." But some viewers "apparently only knew Steratore as an NFL guy, a perhaps predictable situation that led to some amusing tweets" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/22).

CANDID CANDACE: WNBA L.A. Sparks F Candace Parker is serving as a studio analyst for the tournament, and in L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes she has "shown an endearing endurance for someone who says she's still trying to figure this thing out." Parker has become a "complete TV package -- speaking with confidence and insight, a potent presence who can punctuate a statement with a beaming smile or pierced scowl with equal impact." Wasserman Senior VP/Broadcasting & Coaching Debbie Spander has "worked with Parker for more than two years" (L.A. TIMES, 3/25).

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM: In N.Y., Jim Windolf notes NBC yesterday was the "first broadcast network" to break into its sports coverage for news of the Mueller Report. NBC ran a report during the PGA Tour Valspar Championship, while ABC did the same during the Overwatch League Finals. CBS waited until 3:51pm ET to "cut into its coverage" of the NCAA Tournament with a 90-second report by correspondent Paula Reid. CBS "followed the game commentary" with a second report from Reid and Major Garrett during halftime of North Carolina-Washington (N.Y. TIMES, 3/25).