For 24 years, the broadcaster that has become the most synonymous with the NCAA Tournament on CBS is Greg Gumbel.
Of course, the coverage of the tournament has drastically changed since CBS merged with Turner Sports back in 2011 to televise all of the games. Before then, you had to rely on either CBS to be the remote control or buy the Mega March Madness package on DirecTV.
Gumbel was a guest on the most recent episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina. According to him, in the old days of covering the tournament, CBS knew they couldn’t please everyone so they tried to make decisions that would please as many people as possible.
“All of the games were available, but it was a whole greater good kind of thing,” said Gumbel. “The home markets where the teams were from would always get their games, but there were times that we deemed it necessary that Kentucky-UNC is down to the final minute and a half and let’s take you to the end of that game. There are some people who no matter what happens don’t want to be taken away from their game or their team. In that era, you weren’t going to please everybody, but you were trying to please most.”
“Sean McManus, we joke about it a lot,” he continued. “Before the merge with Turner, CBS was doing all of the games and it became necessary to throw from one game to another. You are never going to please everyone like that, so I would get all the complaints on my CBS voicemail and I would forward them to Sean. He came into the studio one night and said don’t do that anymore.”
In the new era of covering March Madness, Gumbel explained that there can be some chaos, especially when it comes to giving updates with all of the games going on.
“I think keeping up with everything that’s happening at a time, especially those first two days of the tournament,” he said, “Of course, towards the end of the evening, you kind of just start getting used to who’s who on what teams and then 24 hours later, it’s entirely different names, numbers, and uniforms. It’s a matter of keeping up and it gets to be a little chaotic at times because they want you to do an update here and quickly do this update over there.
“I think everybody recognizes in our business the chaotic nature of it. The fans, all they want is the good clean feed of what they want to see. Back in the old days, what they wanted to see wasn’t always what they got.”
With CBS merging with Turner Sports, Gumbel has had the chance to work with Charles Barkley often and while he doesn’t compliment people very much, Gumbel had high praise for Barkley because of his honesty about the game.
“I try not to compliment people too much because it might go to their heads, but I told Chuck I don’t know who else in the country can do commercials without seeing their picture and you know who it is,” said Gumbel. “That said, he is one of the most magnanimous, giving people I have met in a long time. He also is very quick on the air. He can take a joke and also can throw a few shots back at you too.”
“Working with him is most interesting from the standpoint that you just don’t know what he is going to say. There are a couple of times I will turn to him and I’ll say let’s talk about that first half and he will go Greg, that was the most boring half of basketball I have seen in my life. You think, well, the bosses are going no, don’t say that. But he is honest and straightforward and knows the game of basketball.”
While March Madness could still go on without watching Gumbel lead the coverage, he has become the main voice to a generation of fans every March. That can’t be forgotten even with the CBS-Turner merger.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.