MEDIA, SPORTS BUSINESS AND THE FAN
Originally Posted by Kib
One wonders if Sean McManus bothers to drop by the ol' forum here to see what hell he wrath?
Maybe he's laying low and staying in the weeds trying to avoid Moonves after the "Katie" thing...
Day One: CBS flexes muscle
Neil Best, Newsday
March 16, 2007
It's a big, complicated hoops nation, from the mountains to the prairies to rabid Kentucky fans' mouths white with foam.
In a small room on West 57th Street yesterday, though, the entire multi-mascot, multi-time zone, multi-bracket festival somehow had to be distilled, shrink-wrapped and presented to an anxious continent.
It ain't easy, in spite of the (mostly) calm demeanor of CBS Sports executives - notably president Sean McManus and executive producer Tony Petitti - who had a front-row seat in the "multi-purpose room'' of the CBS Broadcast Center.
At times four games must be juggled for about 200 affiliates, with potentially millions of viewers ready to second-guess CBS' decisions on when to leave one game for another - or not.
"You do get feedback from people as you listen to talk radio driving in the next day,'' Petitti said after the relatively calm afternoon session.
To minimize the discontent, Petitti, McManus and the other dozen people in the room (plus others in the adjacent control room) monitor a wall of 40 screens, including separate ones for each site that are marked "constant'' or "flex.''
"Flex'' indicates the market was assigned a particular game but can leave it for a better one. "Constant'' means a market with a local team involved, and fans who presumably want to watch every minute.
Net effect: When four games are in progress, there are eight blocks of markets about which CBS must make decisions: four flex areas and four constants.
The early slot on the first day illustrated the inevitable complications.
Boston College-Texas Tech and Maryland-Davidson both were close. Louisville-Stanford was not, but 5 percent of the nation was stuck watching nearly every minute.
That probably was fine with the hoops-heads in Kentucky. It surely was not fine with many in the San Francisco area, where the lackluster interest in Stanford faded fast as Louisville pulled away.
A CBS public relations official soon got a call from a northern California reporter asking what could be done. Short answer: Not much. History has proven more people get mad when you bail on a local team in a boring game than when you don't.
(Thus, there is at least one bonus in having the metropolitan area shut out of this year's field of 65: We can be flexed out of any stinker.)
Petitti said most people come to the event wanting a sample of the action, "so we tend to be aggressive whenever we can.''
The color-coded maps CBS uses to keep track of all of this illustrate a diverse nation.
The most broadly assigned game of Day One was last night's Gonzaga-Indiana contest, with 56 percent assigned to it on a flex basis, 5 percent as a constant.
A total of 68 percent will get Georgia Tech-UNLV early today, but New York is part of the 15 percent of the nation that will get Virginia-Albany.
Petitti did most of the talking in the "MP'' room, instructing the far-flung staff in matters as trivial as the volume level in Winston-Salem and as important as when to rescue the 26 percent of America eligible to flex away from Louisville-Stanford. (Very early, as it turned out.)
McManus, also president of CBS News, sits by Petitti's side, even as he juggles his two disparate jobs. Last year, he spoke to a reporter in Baghdad even as he monitored the hoops action.
By the end of the early games, Petitti, McManus and Michael Aresco, senior VP of programming, each was standing as they monitored the final minutes of the two close games.
New York mostly stuck with the BC-Texas Tech game, but by the time it ended and CBS got around to switching to the Maryland-Davidson near-upset, the Terrapins finally had taken control. It happens.
Was it too soon? Too early? Petitti will hear about it on the radio this morning. In the meantime, there still were 13 more games on the schedule, then 16 more today.http://www.newsday.com/sports/basket...5981160.column