The Ratings Are In …

There is one more thing that needs to be said about March Madness 2017.  It certainly looks as if it was enjoyed by a lot of folks.  On average, the ratings on CBS and the associated TBS networks for the whole TV package were up 13% over 2016.  The final game between UNC and Gonzaga had ratings up 21%.  Based on early Nielsen ratings 24% of the TV sets in use during the game were tuned into the game.  The number of video streams sent out by the NCAA for the final game was up also.  Here is why I think that is important…

Ratings for the NBA so far this season are down.  Every time I run across a report of weekly ratings for NBA telecasts, the picture is not pretty and I believe that an important element of the NBA’s falling ratings is reflected in the March Madness increased ratings.  Tune in to see an NBA game that you have been anticipating because it is between two good teams and you just might see all the best players for one team in street clothes.  Since you do not have hundreds of dollars invested in arena tickets for that event, you just might turn the game off; moreover, you may not be so “anticipatory” about the next game between two good teams because you also read about other games where players “needed a rest”.

[Aside:  Back-to-back road games are the things that cause NBA players to “need rest”.  In the ACC tournament held in NYC, every team was on the road and to win the tournament, a team had to win 4 games in 4 nights.  No one needed a rest…]

In the college tournament games, you are going to see the best players even if they are injured and should take a rest.  In addition, those players are totally invested in the games in terms of focus and emotion.  After an NBA team loses a playoff series, you do not see tears; after a March Madness tournament loss, you see them frequently.  Even sitting in your living room, you can sense how important the game is to the college players vis a vis the pros.

NBA ratings will increase once the playoffs begin and as the playoffs proceed.  However, the huge money paid to the NBA for its TV deal is not going to be sustained if the only good ratings come in May and June but the airwaves are occupied from November to June.

Changing subjects … I am pleased to announce that our long national nightmare is over [ /Gerald R. Ford ].  We now know the answer to the question that has been smoldering for the last 8-10 weeks:

  • Whither Tony Romo?

Yesterday we learned that he will no longer be playing football on Sundays; he will be in the television booth doing color analysis for CBS on Sundays.  Romo will be paired with Jim Nantz as the #1 announcing team for CBS displacing Phil Simms from that chair; there was no explanation as to what Simms’ role with CBS – if any – will be starting this Fall.

[Aside:  There is a symmetry here.  Dak Prescott showed up as a rookie in Dallas and took Romo’s job causing Romo to retire and show up at CBS as a rookie where he took Phil Simms’ job.  Wheels within wheels…]

Tony Romo is in a challenging situation here.  The color analysts on the lead announcing teams at FOX and NBC are:

  1. Troy Aikman
  2. Cris Collinsworth.

Notwithstanding the fact that there are fans around the country who will swear that both Aikman and Collinsworth hate their favorite team, both of those men are excellent at what they do and they have been doing it for a long time.  Troy Aikman did not step into the lead analyst role straight out of the NFL; he did some “apprentice assignments” first.  Cris Collinsworth spent more than 5 years in various broadcasting roles before his ascension to the top slot.  Tony Romo is going to do this “cold” and the comparisons are inevitable.

Please note; I said Tony Romo is in a “challenging situation”.  I did not say he was doomed to failure or anything of the sort.  I am merely putting down a marker here to remind myself not to draw conclusions about his future after a game or two – – unless of course he comes out of the gate as the reincarnation of John Madden.  We shall see…

The MLB season is under way.  Baseball more than any other US sport celebrates its history as well as its present.  However, that is not to say that there cannot be changes in baseball even when it comes to an iconic venue that is part of the National Register of Historic Places – – Fenway Park.  The Red Sox played their first game in Fenway Park in April 1912. They did not broadcast that game for a simple reason; there were no radio stations in existence at the time; this is a place where one bathes in “baseball history”.

Notwithstanding all the above, Fenway Park has leaped from its beginnings in the early 20th century directly to the 21st century with this new addition:

  • A Virtual Reality Batting Cage:  According to the folks who run the stadium (Fenway Sports Group) this new feature will give fans a chance to ““feel what it’s like to take swings against Major League players at Fenway Park.”
  • Nothing says “2017” like “virtual reality” …

The folks at Fenway also made two gustatory additions for this year:

  1. The Tully Tavern:  This is a new full-service bar area named for and featuring Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey.  This happens to be a whiskey to my liking so I would definitely check this out were I to get to a game in Fenway Park.
  2. Lobster Poutine:  One of the vendors will offer this concoction that I doubt I could resist.  I like lobster in just about any way other than as a topping for chocolate ice cream.  Poutine is a Canadian specialty made of French Fries, cheese curds and a light brown gravy; there is a restaurant in our area that makes this dish by frying the potatoes in duck fat; the word “spectacular” comes immediately to mind.  I have no idea how these folks might combine “lobster” and “poutine”, but I would surely give it a try if I saw it.

Finally, here is an item from Brad Rock in the Deseret News; I am in full agreement with his conclusion here:

“The Salt Lake Bees have announced their promotional schedule for 2017.

“Among the special nights are Golf Night, Frank Layden Night, ‘70s Night, Yoga Night, Star Wars Night and Singles Night.

“Considering the Bees had the second-worst record in the Pacific Coast League last year, maybe they should work on Win the Game Night.”

Burt don’t get me wrong, I love sports………