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March Madness Ratings: Best Thursday Overnight Ratings in 20 years for CBS, Turner

The first full day of March Madness coverage delivered the best Thursday overnight ratings since 1991 for CBS Sports and Turner Sports, the companies say.

Coverage on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV combined to deliver a 5.7 rating/13 share Thursday, compared to a 4.6 rating/11 share in overnights last year.

The biggest growth was during the day, with the first window (12-4:15PM) up 42% from last year, and the second window (3-6:45PM) up 46%. The evening/primetime windows delivered higher ratings than daytime, but saw slightly less growth, improving by 8% (7-9:45PM) and 12% (9:15PM-12:30AM).

Jalen Rose Clarifies "Uncle Toms" Comment

Following Grant Hill‘s Op-Ed column in The New York Times, Jalen Rose looked to clarify his “Uncle Toms” comments that were directed towards black Duke players.

The Fab Five executive producer left a lengthy voicemail for Michael McCarthy of the USA Today on Wednesday evening.

“First, says Rose, his comments about Duke preferring to recruit “Uncle Tom’ African-American athletes were said from his former perspective as a high school athlete; not as a 38-year old man. He’s irritated that one comment is overshadowing the rest of the documentary.

“I know a lot of people are trying to circumvent a great documentary that was two hours of quality content and paraphrase a statement that I made and look at the headline but not read the story. That’s basically when I talked about my recruiting as a high school student as it related to Duke. I just want to make sure I verify how I felt about that. I was clearly talking about a framework from 1991-1993, not about 2011.” Read more

Lakers vs. Heat Scores 4.8 Million Total Viewers

TNT’s telecast of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat game on Thursday night delivered more than 4.8 million total viewers and a 3.1 U.S. HH rating.

Lakers vs. Heat was the third most watched game on cable this season in total viewers, households and ratings, trailing only Miami vs. Boston on Opening Night (7.3 million total viewers, 4.6 U.S. HH rating) and Miami vs. Cleveland on Dec. 2 (7.1 million total viewers, 4.2 U.S. HH rating).

In the nightcap of TNT’s doubleheader, New York vs. Dallas delivered 2.4 million viewers and a 1.6 U.S. HH rating.

Billy Packer Fires Back At Charles Barkley

It didn’t take long for someone to let Billy Packer know what Charles Barkley had to say about him Thursday night.

Packer was on Sports Radio 610 in Texas Friday morning and the topic of Barkley came up:

“I would have no problem debating Charles Barkley [on college basketball] … I have probably forgotten more about college basketball … than Charles Barkley ever knew existed.”

Yawn.

That’s the best you could come up with?

Barkley has already admitted his college basketball shortcomings. C’mon, Billy.

[H/T The Big Lead]

Mel Kiper Compares Cam Newton To Akili Smith

Most folks are split down the middle on Cam Newton‘s future in the NFL.

But nobody has compared him to former Oregon quarterback and one-year wonder Akili Smith … until now.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper did just that on Wednesday while hosting a conference call with the media.

“He was a one-year wonder. Akili Smith was a one-year wonder,” Kiper said.” “If you hit (on Newton), you could have a sensational quarterback for ten years. (But) if you miss, it sets you back three, four, five years.”

In case you need a refresher on how bad Smith was, the former No. 3 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft was 3-14 as a starting quarterback and his touchdown-to-interception was 5:13.

Jeez, Mel. Tell us how you really feel about Cam.

ESPN Is So Powerful it Can Turn Back Time

On March 4, ESPN posted a press release announcing events that happened on March 3. That’s power, folks.

Oops: SI Swimsuit Cover Accidentally Revealed

The cat is out of the bag for tonight’s reveal of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover on the Late Show With David Letterman.

Rana Wardlaw spotted the cover of the 25-year-old Russian model Irina Shayk outside her office window and quickly snapped a photo of it.

“I saw it from my office window,” Wardlaw told the Huffington Post. “I work at a media agency called Starcom Worldwide. They unveiled the billboard for a few minutes to tape it for the Letterman Show and then covered it back up. I guess they didn’t cover it fast enough!”

Happy Valentine’s Day, fellas.

Adidas and Spain Extend Sponsorship Agreement

The best soccer team in the world is reupping with the sport’s most dominant brand. Spain and Adidas agreed to extend their partnership through December 2018.

The apparel company, which has outfitted La Roja for the past 30 years, has gotten good marketing value for its money as Spain prevailed in the 2008 European Championship as well as the 2010 World Cup.

“We are very proud and excited to announce the extension of our successful partnership with the RFEF,” Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said in a statement. “Adidas is the global leader in football and Spain is currently the strongest team in the world which makes this partnership a perfect fit.”

Adidas and Nike continue to battle for market share across the globe. Each brand boasts a significant number of national and club team sponsorships.

In America, Adidas sponsors Major League Soccer, while the Swoosh outfits the United States men’s national team.

Shots Fired, Missed in the NFL-NFLPA Media Battle

Did the National Football League start losing the lockout rhetoric war with its treatment of those 1,250 fans on Super Bowl Sunday?

On some level, the battle between the league and the Players Union will come down to which side can persuade the fans it has a better case. (Yes, this is all about money, but the fans can exude some level of pressure to get a deal done as well.) If that’s the case, the NFL’s case took a hit on Sunday.

William Rhoden warns the behemoth, writing:

You can disrespect fans only so much before they turn on you. A few more episodes like what happened in Arlington, coupled with a nasty lockout and the newly fashionable personal seat licenses, and the N.F.L. empire could begin a decline in popularity.

While that argument falls flat, the league is treading on thin ice. Read more

Is Stephen A. Smith Returning To ESPN?

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News reports ESPN is in talks with Stephen A. Smith on a deal that would have him hosting a radio show on ESPN 1050 in New York City.

“This is the first step to Stephen A getting back in the ESPN family, which means he’ll will also be doing television at some point,” a source told Raissman.

Smith left his radio gig at Fox Sports Radio at the end of last year. He previously hosted a radio show on ESPN 1050 with Brandon Tierney between 2005-2008.

While a return to radio wouldn’t be a huge surprise for the brash and outspoken Smith, I’m curious to see in what capacity ESPN would use him on television.

Too bad Rasho Nesterovic isn’t still in the NBA.

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