With one game left on the March Madness schedule we thought it would be appropriate to look back on the past 4 weeks and breakdown what worked, and what didn’t, from the CBS/Turner broadcast conglomerate.
First, it should be pointed out that the 2011 NCAA tournament enjoyed its highest overall television ratings in the past 17 years. This is obviously due to the combination of games broadcast across all of the Turner cable partners.
Now, for some specificsWhat worked
- Broadcasting every game – This seems like a no-brainer, but for any sports fan the ability to pick and choose is a must, and CBS/Turner delivered that this year, at no additional cost (Bye, Bye Directv March Madness package) to the viewer
- Staggered Start Times – Allowed the viewer to catch the exciting conclusion to any game without having to make a tough viewing choice.
- Notifications – The network added a blinking button feature to the in game scoreboard of any close game airing on another network. This made it almost idiot proof for viewers, and lets face it, we are all kind of idiots
- Charles and Kenny – While it was obvious that Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith had not followed college basketball all year, they were still entertaining and a must watch. Granted, Barkley did rail against the 1-and-done rule about 50 times a game, but he did so colorfully and honestly. Smith, beside being a UNC homer and apologist, wasn’t as insightful as he is on NBA games, but he was markedly better than whatever else CBS/Turner would have rolled out
- Gus Johnson – The guy just brings it every game. He brings an air of excitement to every game he calls, and somehow he always seems to be on a close game that comes down to the final shot. Yes, he did ask a somewhat boneheaded question at the end of the BYU-Florida game, but that is more of an aberration than an habit. In our opinion, and based on the almost cult following he receives, Gus is the best play by play guy out there right now
What didn’t work/Needs Changes
- Reggie Miller – For some reason he seemed really out of place in the tournament. His NBA counterparts (Barkley, Smith, and Kerr) were able to fit in somewhat easily, but Reggie seemed like he dropped in from a strange plant and had never seen a college basketball game before. His chemistry with Len Elmore was awful, and even play by play guru Gus Johnson couldn’t make him sound interested.
- The Three Man Booth – First, to be consistent, this isn’t a gripe solely with college basketball or CBS. However, the three man booth is generally a bad idea, especially when it isn’t the normal configuration. The final four trio of Nantz, Kellogg, and Kerr just did not seem to mesh, and in our opinion, Kerr outshined Kellogg in his analysis of the game. If this group had worked 15 games together all year, it might be a different story, but to throw these guys together for 7 games a year and expect greatness just doesn’t seem realistic. CBS needs to choose one analyst, and in our opinion, it should probably be Kerr.
- Jim Nantz – Much in the same way Billy Packer dragged on past his years, Nantz seems to be hanging on like that piece of gum stuck to your shoe. The reality is that he is not a strong basketball play by play guy, but he is the lead voice of CBS Sports. This is kind of like ABC using Al Michaels to call NBA basketball simply because he was Al Michaels. Don’t get us wrong, Nantz is serviceable, but an upgrade, say to Gus Johnson, might inject some new life into the broadcast.
- Seth Davis’ demotion – CBS/Turner decided to bump Seth from the lead pre-game/halftime set with Greg Gumbel, Kenny Smith, Greg Anthony, and Charles Barkley to the secondary (cable) set with Ernie Johnson, Steve Smith, and a revolving door of coaches and guests. We generally liked Davis on the CBS set in the past and were surprised to see him moved, however it did seem like he and Barkley had the chemistry of a drunken one night stand couple the morning after. Davis is insightful and knowledgeable, and he should have had as big a role this year as he has it past years.
- Championship Game Start Time – The finale on Monday night tips at 9:21 eastern. This is later than the World Series, Super Bowl, BCS Championship game, and NBA finals (barring West Coast teams). In our opinion the NCAA puts on a great four week tournament, and then squibbs the biggest game. Not to play the whole “what about the kids” card, but the reality is that a 9:21 start time will alienate and preclude some fans from being able to watch and enjoy the game. CBS needs to bump the start time up to 8:00pm eastern. They should also use one of there Turner cable partners (TruTV?) to provide alternate camera angles/positions and announcers for the game.
Overall, the majority of the 2011 NCAA Tournament has been a joy to watch, but as with all things, it could always be better.
Here are some 2011 Tournament Highlights
Stay Thirsty my Friends