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NCAA Tournament Viewership Increases

Brandon Contes

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The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is complete after a historic two rounds filled with unprecedented upsets including 16 seed UMBC knocking off one seed Virginia.

According to CBS and Turner the tournament has averaged 8.2 million viewers across all platforms, a 4% increase from the 7.9 million views last year. Through Friday, their digital platform March Madness Live, totaled 9.4 million hours of programming consumed, a 7% increase from last year.

Many casual fans root for upsets, which they received a surprising amount of during the tournament’s first weekend, but the big schools draw ratings as March Madness heads toward the later rounds. As more ratings details are released, it will be interesting to see if next weekend’s viewership numbers decline from recent years with less of the top programs remaining.

After the conclusion of Sunday night’s games, CBS and Turner released the tip times and announcers for the Regional Semifinal games beginning Thursday March 22nd. The commentator schedule for Saturday’s Regional Finals will be announced Thursday night; Sunday’s Regional Finals announcers will be released Friday night.

Thursday, March 22

7:07 p.m. ET (CBS): (11) Loyola (IL) vs. (7) Nevada — Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington
7:37 p.m. ET (TBS): (7) Texas A&M vs. (3) Michigan — Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson
After Loyola/Nevada (CBS): (9) Kansas State vs. (5) Kentucky — Anderson, Webber and Byington
After A&M/Michigan (TBS): (9) Florida State vs. (4) Gonzaga — Harlan, Miller, Bonner and Jacobson

Friday, March 23

7:07 p.m. ET (CBS): (5) Clemson vs. (1) Kansas — Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson
7:37 p.m. ET (TBS): (5) West Virginia vs. (1) Villanova — Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel and Allie LaForce
After Clemson/Kansas (CBS): (11) Syracuse vs. (2) Duke — Nantz, Hill, Raftery and Wolfson
After WVU/Nova (TBS): (3) Texas Tech vs. (2) Purdue — Eagle, Spanarkel, LaForce

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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Stephen A. Smith: You Can’t Just ‘Go Out There Running Your Mouth’ About Serious Topics

Smith’s comments came after being asked why he had remained silent on the accusations against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey.

Jordan Bondurant

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Stacy Revere, Getty Images

Stephen A. Smith clapped back towards those who have been critical of the First Take panelist and podcast host for his silence on the ongoing Josh Giddey situation.

Giddey, a 21-year-old guard from Australia, is being investigated by the NBA after allegations on social media surfaced that he was having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl.

On The Stephen A. Smith Show on Monday, Smith was annoyed with people who just want him to skewer Giddey based on the limited information available.

“Y’all are getting on my last damn nerves. Could you try to be responsible? Could you try?” he asked. “That’s all I’m asking. What you want Stephen A. to say?”

Stephen A. Smith pointed out that there are a lot of unknowns with this case right now. All that people have to go off of currently are social media posts. He said throwing around accusations without proof or supporting facts is a good way to get slapped with a lawsuit.

“You know why Stephen A. hasn’t said anything? Because you could get sued, idiots!” he said. “You don’t just go out there running your damn mouth over something this serious.”

Smith concluded by saying until there’s more information available and signs that something wrong has taken place, he’s going to stay out of it. It’s hard to offer a reaction when you don’t know how deep the accusations run.

“If I had a clue, I would have spoken on it, but I don’t and it’s why I haven’t said anything,” he said. “My advice to you all is to shut the hell up and do the same.”

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Pat McAfee: SI Scandal ‘Raises a Real Thought That This Is What the Future Could Look Like’

“Let’s say that a company like Sports Illustrated was like, ‘You know what we have no money to start up a content creation website. Boom, we just need to get fake people to do this.'”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pat McAfee
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Pat McAfee is fascinated by the ongoing saga with Sports Illustrated.

SI came under fire on Monday after a Futurism article came out claiming that the legacy sports media outlet published AI-generated content on its website and published the content under bylines of fake authors.

McAfee talked about the story initially on his show Monday. But on Tuesday, after reading the statement from The Arena Group, Pat McAfee said the story is both bizarre and a potential look ahead to what the media space could be like.

“To be completely candid, the reason why I enjoyed it so much is just because this raises a real thought that this is what the future could look like,” McAfee said. “We’re not saying this happened, but for the sake of it this is how we took the news that we learned yesterday. Let’s say that a company like Sports Illustrated was like, ‘You know what we have no money to start up a content creation website. Boom, we just need to get fake people to do this.’ Like I think that was what was so awesome yesterday in my mind.”

McAfee continued to ponder how wild it was to think that entire news outlets could potentially have content completely generated by AI.

“It is f–king insane to think that that’s gonna be the possibility of what the future looks like,” he said. “And we said it yesterday, but we need to enjoy these times, boys, because these things are taking our jobs. And they’re gonna be so much better than us. So much better.”

Pat McAfee added that with the way the media landscape is changing, it’s hard to tell if AI hasn’t already infiltrated the space. He gave one example of some sites and platforms offering readers the chance to read a condensed version of an article.

“Who’s picking the condensed version of what the article is, because I see some condensed articles on Twitter or X, and they’re taking some quotes that I don’t think are necessarily as accurate as the article that I’m reading,” McAfee said. “So who’s summarizing it? Who’s doing that, AI?”

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NASCAR President on Next TV Deal: We Will Have One, Maybe Two, New Partners

Both Amazon Prime Video and TNT have been rumored as potential new partners for the motorsports series.

Jordan Bondurant

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NASCAR is celebrating all of its champions this week in Nashville, and while many anticipated the sport’s organizing body would have news about its new media rights deal, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps in a Monday webinar alluded to the fact that details could be available before the end of the year. What is known is that FOX and NBC will continue to be the main two carriers of the Cup Series from 2025 onward.

What’s also known is that NASCAR has been shopping around a smaller package of races to tech giant Amazon and to Warner Bros. Discovery for the purpose of airing on TNT. Whether one or both of those companies signs on the dotted line remains to be seen, but Phelps hinted that it’s possible both could split a 10-race slate.

“We are going to have an additional partner and we may have two additional partners,” Phelps told NBC Sports. “That’s kind of where we’re trying to figure out in these last few weeks — what that’s going to look like, but we already know we’re going to have more partners.”

Adding a streaming partner would be new territory for NASCAR, but Phelps recognizes that it’s a resource available to try and tap into. Still, linear TV remains the main focus in terms of guaranteeing maximum visibility for events.

“No one has any idea what’s going to happen with streaming and what’s going to happen with cable. We do know that broadcast television is going to be around for the foreseeable future at 125 million homes. That’s not going to change,” Phelps said.

“What we do know is that the cable universe has declined,” he added. “So what does that look like in two years, five years, seven years? Don’t know, but we better make sure that we have distribution points that will allow us to be successful moving forward, to have as many eyeballs as we can, while not insignificant, also getting paid. The revenue is significant that comes from these media rights or from these media partners.”

The current TV rights deal with FOX and NBC is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season and worth an estimated $820 million a year. With the rising costs for teams to participate and be competitive in the sport, Phelps said the most logical way to help bring about some financial relief to teams is by generating more TV money.

NASCAR will already enter 2025 with at least one new TV partner, as earlier in the fall it was announced that The CW would become the exclusive TV home for the Xfinity Series. The Craftsman Truck Series airs exclusively on FS1.

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