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NCAA Tournament Viewership Through First Two Rounds Best Since 2017

Sunday’s second-round game between Duke and Michigan State was the most-watched game of the opening weekend, with 11.223 million tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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College basketball’s Final Four will be set by the end of this coming weekend. But before the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games are played, let’s take a look at how the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament did in terms of viewership.

Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal reported Tuesday that the Big Dance is averaging 3.06 million viewers per game across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV, which is the best since 2017. Viewership is up 12 percent from last year’s tournament.

Sunday’s second-round game between Duke and Michigan State was the most-watched game of the opening weekend, with 11.223 million tuning in to see Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils beat Tom Izzo’s Spartans. Michigan’s upset win over Tennessee on Saturday came in second with an audience of 9.833 million. Awful Announcing cited those numbers, crediting ShowBuzz Daily with the info.

On cable, the Gonzaga-Memphis game late on Saturday night had the highest draw, with 4.367 million watching the Bulldogs survive a threat from the Tigers.

Likewise, the games that had the smallest audiences were Baylor-Norfolk State (457,000) and Texas Tech-Montana State (441,000).

Karp said combined, the CBS Sports/Turner Sports effort had an audience of near 10 million through the second round. Again, the best mark since 2017.

Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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