Saturday Night Livened Up By Basketball
For years, Saturday night has been written off as a no-win night by TV network executives, who now mostly program the evening with failed TV series, inexpensive news magazines, and reruns. They appear to regard the fact that sports programming on Saturday often draws big numbers as an anomaly. And NBC hardly seems to take notice of the fact that its long-running Saturday Night Live often produces bigger ratings than anything it airs in primetime any day of the week. But, according to Nielsen Research, CBS's March Madness telecast last Saturday drew 10.51 million viewers, and its ratings among the crucial 18-49 age group topped those of all three rival networks combined. Moreover, ABC's umpteenth rerun of Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 epic The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, averaged 5.90 million viewers over the three hours of primetime. That may be down from the 7.09 million who watched the movie a year ago (when it aired at the end of April, this is, without competition from the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, but it's still a solid number. Meanwhile, CBS is receiving much praise for halting repeats of an incident in Sunday's basketball telecast in which Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware broke his leg during the first half of his team's winning match against Duke. Although CBS commentator Clark Kellogg described the injury as gruesome (reports said that Ware's broken bone was protruding through the skin), it did not show a closeup of the injury and instead focused on the faces of the players surrounding Ware. After replaying the incident, the network decided not to do so during halftime. CBS made a good call, Baltimore Sun TV columnist David Zurawik commented.