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Sunday, April 24, 2011

CBS didn't blink when Tiger Woods called

Now, you've seen everything: TV saying no to Tiger Woods.
That, says CBS' LeslieAnne Wade, is why you didn't see Woods on CBS Sunday. The network, she says, was offered the same kind of five-minute chat Sunday afternoon that ESPN and the Golf Channel snapped up and aired Sunday night — but passed because of the time limit. Not that CBS, which airs The Masters, isn't interested in talking to Woods. Says Wade: "Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS."
INTERVIEW: Tiger 'nervous' about fan reaction
It's almost amazing anybody would turn down Woods' "first interview," as both ESPN and Golf Channel billed its sit-downs. The Golf Channel's Dan Higgins says Woods did not want interview footage to air until NBC's PGA Tour coverage had concluded.
ESPN and Golf Channel got to pick their interviewers —Tom Rinaldi and Kelly Tilghman, respectively — and no subjects were off-limits.
Asked whether it's unusual for subjects to dictate interview lengths and air times, ESPN's Mike Soltys said "it's not very common. But this circumstance isn't very common either." Said Golf Channel's Higgins: "I don't know if it's unusual. Every circumstance is different."
Tilghman was an interesting choice for the interview since she was suspended for two weeks in 2008 for saying young players who wanted to challenge Woods should "lynch him in a back alley." She apologized and Woods accepted.
If Woods — notoriously meticulous about burnishing his image before his scandals spilled out — wants to show he's changed, the orchestration of his so-called first interviews suggests he's kept some old habits. His logical strategy might be that, after his public monologue last month and then Sunday's brief chats, he'll soon be done talking about his private life — without having faced many in-depth questions. As Rinaldi noted on ESPN before his interview aired: "A five-minute limitation is very real and affects and shapes the questions we asked."
At least CBS showed that while networks will fetch every Woods shot with their cameras, they don't always have to roll over.
•ESPN's first-round coverage of The Masters is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET. Online, will have an hour of TV-like live coverage at 3 p.m. ET — and continuous live online coverage of five holes — 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. So it's possible viewers won't see Woods' return — first-day tee times will be announced two days in advance — although ESPN would likely begin its first-day Masters coverage as early as dawn if Augusta National decided to allow expanded coverage.
Fans might say they love to see Cinderellas triumph in the NCAA tournament.
But in a tournament already lacking some of the usual big names — North Carolina, UCLA, Connecticut — that can draw casual fans nationally, CBS is now left with lots of little-known squads, such as St. Mary's and Northern Iowa.
Which suggests this year's upset-crazy tournament might test whether viewers really do want to watch Davids rather than Goliaths.
Or, it might show something else: It doesn't matter all that much who's playing.
Consider that ratings hardly budged for the two biggest upsets so far. St. Mary's win against Villanova on Saturday drew a preliminary national rating of 4% of U.S. TV households — up just 3% from the time slot last year. And Northern Iowa's win against Kansas, a team picked to win the NCAA title by 42% of the 4.78 million bracket entries, drew 6.5% of U.S. households —down 3% from last year. For all the upsets, CBS through Saturday averaged 4.6% of U.S. households per tournament game — exactly the same as last year.
Running numbers: says its first-day NCAA coverage drew 3.4 million hours of live streaming video, up 20% from last year and its so-called "boss button" drew 1.7 million hits — up 60% from last year's tournament total. … This year's bracket-busting: Only 12 brackets, out of 4.78 million entered, correctly picked the first eight teams to make the Sweet 16.
Spice rack:
TNT's Charles Barkley says, if Michael Jordan "surrounds himself with different people" and not hire cronies, he'll be fine as the Charlotte Bobcats owner: "I don't think business and friends mix, and that is the only thing that worries me about this." Barkley, along with TNT NBA studio colleagues Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith, will call the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls on Thursday (8 p.m. ET) as they work their first game since 2001 — the trio will hype that one-shot novelty assignment by appearing on NBC's Tonight show Monday night. …Mike Belotti, Oregon's athletics director for less than a year after being its football coach for 14 seasons, joins ESPN as an analyst, saying it's "a dream come true." … ESPN's Tony Kornheiser, on his local Washington, D.C., radio show, drew Lance Armstrong's attention — and twittering — with the show's long-running jokes about how motorists should run down pushy bicyclists. On the show Friday, Kornheiser told Armstrong "these rants are over," with Armstrong suggesting public figures have to be careful: "I have people who follow my career that, if I say 'jump,' they say 'how high?' That's a little scary, but that's the reality of the world we live in today." Fans taking celebs too seriously? Nuance being lost amidst all the new media? Imagine that.

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