For the first time this year, the men’s NCAA basketball national championship game aired on cable TV, rather than on network TV. The main broadcast of the game, which was one of the best in recent memory, going down to the wire as Villanova beat North Carolina on a last-second three-pointer, was on TBS, with team-specific broadcasts airing on TNT and TruTV, drawing an average of 17.8 million viewers, down 37 percent from 2015’s final game, for the fourth lowest-rated game in the tournament’s history on television.
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A little perspective, though: Everyone in the TV industry anticipated some sort of drop — not only would the game not be airing on a broadcast network, which has far more intrinsic reach, but the ratings for 2015’s title game shattered records and was up 33 percent over 2014’s final. So while a 37 percent dip is by no means a good thing, 2016 is off 2014’s numbers by only about 16 percent.
That’s also a lot of eyeballs for Turner, which is attempting to get away from the public perception of TNT as the ampersand network (home of shows like “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Franklin & Bash” and “King & Maxwell”) and TBS as merely the home of “The Big Bang Theory” repeats. Consequently, the cable conglomerate devoted several minutes of precious ad inventory — mostly during the halftime show — to introducing audiences to the slick new TNT and TBS brands.
Rather, the trouble might come once total viewership for the tournament is tallied. Turner and CBS, which jointly produce and air the entirety of March Madness, could be facing a 25 percent difference between the ratings they promised advertisers and the ratings they actually delivered, according to media buying sources.
Next year, the game will be back on CBS. We’ll see if the eyeballs return, and if the decision to alternate having the game on CBS or TBS depending upon the year is a bad one.
The men’s college basketball season ends tonight on cable TV, with the game itself tipping off at 9:19 EDT on TBS. North Carolina and Villanova, winners of the semifinal games this past Saturday, will face off with the national title on the line. Jim Nantz will call the game with analysts Grant Hill and Bill Raftery and reporter Tracy Wolfson.
In addition to the main broadcast, there will also be team-specific broadcasts on TNT and TruTV. Here’s more information from the NCAA:
“Team Stream by Bleacher Report” or team-specific coverage will include the North Carolina Team Stream on TNT and the Villanova Team Stream on truTV. North Carolina Team Stream commentators will include Wes Durham calling the game with analyst Brendan Haywood and reporter Dwayne Ballen. The Villanova Team Stream will be called by Scott Graham with analyst Brian Finneran and reporter Kacie McDonnell. Team Stream coverage on TNT and truTV will begin at 9 p.m.
National Championship coverage on TBS will begin with the Capital One Championship Central pregame show at 7 p.m. Ernie Johnson will host studio coverage with analysts Charles Barkley, Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith. They will be joined by Greg Gumbel with analysts Steve Smith, Reggie Miller and Seth Davis.
Pregame coverage will include guest appearances by Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo and Connecticut Head Coach Kevin Ollie. Monday’s coverage will include taped performances from Sunday’s NCAA March Madness Music Festival featuring Maroon 5 and Pitbull, airing as part of the pregame show.
Enjoy the game!
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has reached its final weekend, with the Final Four occurring this Saturday and the championship game between this Saturday’s winners on Monday. Here is the cable TV schedule for the Final Four this Saturday (all times Eastern):
- Oklahoma vs Villanova – Main Broadcast on TBS
- Oklahoma vs Villanova – Oklahoma Team Stream on TNT
- Oklahoma vs Villanova – Villanova Team Stream on TruTV
40 minutes after end of first game:
- North Carolina vs Syracuse – Main Broadcast on TBS
- North Carolina vs Syracuse – North Carolina Team Stream on TNT
- North Carolina vs Syracuse – Syracuse Team Stream on TruTV
As has become tradition, the national broadcast on TBS will be augmented by team-specific broadcasts on TNT and TruTV, allowing fans of the particular teams to watch coverage garnered toward them.
More from NCAA.com:
Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery will call the games with reporter Tracy Wolfson.
Ernie Johnson will host studio coverage from the Final Four National Semifinals and the National Championship on Monday, April 4, from NRG Stadium in Houston with analysts Charles Barkley, Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith. They will be joined by Greg Gumbel along with analysts Reggie Miller and Steve Smith and insider Seth Davis.
Enjoy the games.
The first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was a memorable one leaving many brackets busted. Though many of the teams behind first round upsets did not make it to the second weekend, the Sweet Sixteen will still provide some great matchups and possibilities for unexpected teams to head to Elite Eight.
Here are the network and cable TV listings. All times EDT:
Thursday, March 24
- 7:10 CBS Louisville I
2) Villanova vs 3) Miami
- 7:37 TBS Anaheim I
2) Oklahoma vs 3) Texas A&M
- ~9:40 CBS Louisville II
1) Kansas vs 5) Maryland
- ~10:07 TBS Anaheim II
1) Oregon vs 4) Duke
Friday March 25
- 7:10 CBS Chicago I
1) Virginia vs 4) Iowa State
- 7:27 TBS Philadelphia I
6) Notre Dame vs 7) Wisconsin
- ~9:40 CBS Chicago II
10) Syracuse vs 11) Gonzaga
- ~9:57 TBS Philadelphia II
1) North Carolina vs 5) Indiana
Enjoy the games.
If you have any doubt that the National Football League has replaced Major League Baseball as the pastime of choice for American sports fans, this should clear it up for you: despite the fact that the Chicago Cubs are playing October baseball for the first time in a long time, and competing to end a more than century-long World Series drought, the ratings are still higher in the city of Chicago for a middling Chicago Bears team that’s really only competing not to wind up in the basement of the league come winter.
According to the Sherman Report:
Through five regular-season games, the Bears are averaging a 23.6 rating in Chicago; 1 local ratings point is worth an estimated 35,000 homes. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ five postseason games generated a 19.4 rating on TBS.
A couple of factors come into play. TBS is a cable station that is seen in 86 percent of the nation’s homes. All five Bears games have aired on network television on Fox and CBS. Typically, cable ratings are 10-15 percent lower than the network’s.
However, the counter is that all five Bears games were played on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, two of the Cubs’ playoffs aired completely in primetime, and two others had finishes that pushed into primetime. Ratings usually are higher in primetime than during the afternoon.
Beyond that, Monday Night Football has consistently outdrawn playoff baseball, even when combining multiple contests played between the Cubs and Cardinals and the Mets and Dodgers, with a Pittsburgh Steelers-San Diego Chargers game dwarfing the ratings of baseball games involving the nation’s three largest markets.
For more news on sports and cable ratings, stay tuned to the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.
The time has come: the Round of 64 is here (enough with that First Four nonsense—those are play-in games) and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament really begins. Make sure your brackets are filled out before the first game starts, and sit back for a long weekend of basketball, maybe the best weekend in sports all year long.
It’s been a long time since a team has come in as favored to win the tournament as the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, who are seeking to win the title as an undefeated team for the first time since Bobby Knight did so with his Indiana Hoosiers more than thirty years ago. But anything can happen when it’s winner take all in every particular game, and you’ll want to be there to see all the blowouts, upsets, and highlights.
CBS Sports has the rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, so you can find all of your March Madness viewing on CBS-owned cable and network television. Check out the schedule, and make sure to find where all those channels are on your cable television package. This year, games will air on:
You may ask yourself: “Really, truTV?” Yes, the channel with all the courtroom shows and true crime documentaries that form the basis for CSI episodes is hosting NCAA tournament basketball once again, as part of the CBS/Turner Sports team-up. Look up where it is available from your provider, and be sure to find the HD feed: you’ll hope you have found a cable provider with the most HD channels in your area.
Games begin today at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Get ready.
Keith Olbermann’s career on television has been a series of ups and downs. As co-anchor on the late-night SportsCenter with Dan Patrick, he helped to define what made that show, and ESPN itself, great in the early 1990s. After that, though, he’s bounced around from network to network, covering sports sometimes, but mostly just espousing political opinions that even many of his allies on the left side of the aisle can find to be a bit much.
Now, though, according to the Hollywood Reporter, he’s returning to cable television in a non-political capacity, to head up Turner Sports’ coverage of the Major League Baseball postseason.
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The deal will have Olbermann leading TBS’ Atlanta-based studio show with Dennis Eckersley and possibly a second analyst. TBS this season has both Wild Card Playoff games, 18 of the 20 League Division Series games and exclusive rights to the National League Championship Series. Sources say the deal has an option for the 2014 postseason as well.
“It’s well known that Keith is a fan of the game and when you combine that with his studio experience, keen insight and passion for baseball and its history, he’ll add a new dimension to our MLB postseason studio shows,” David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports at Turner Broadcasting, said in a statement. “We’re excited to have him join Dennis in studio, and look forward to Keith sharing his in-depth knowledge of the game, MLB teams and players with our viewers for three great weeks in October.”
Olbermann’s last job had him getting fired from the liberal-leaning Current TV, where he hosted a version of the show Countdown that he originated on MSNBC. Since this is a short gig, one can hope that he’ll find a way not to get fired.