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March mad at CBS: Network's NCAA Tournament blunders continue sports TV slump

March mad at CBS: Network's NCAA Tournament blunders continue sports TV slump

The second day of the NCAA Tournament is slowly picking up steam  — which means that everyone will start screaming at their TVs and computer screens soon.

Only, the yells won't be about buzzer beaters or controversial calls. Instead, they'll be directed at CBS' coverage — both on air and online.

March Madness On Demand — the network's Web feed where you can watch any tournament game in the country online for free — froze near the end of 15th seed Robert Morris' near upset of 2nd seed Villanova, which happened to be the most compelling game played during your typical cubicle dweller's work hours on day one. This caused a near panic in some quarters.

Doesn't CBS know that America depends on it? We're counting on the network to cost our country $1.8 billion in lost productivity.

Those several minutes when CBS' online coverage was frozen around the country could have forced some actual work to be done.

CBS' antiquated old TV coverage isn't getting all that much better reviews. There were some slow switches to close games, particularly in the Midwest. (When are people in the Midwest going to realize that no one cares about them? Can't you just picture a director in the control room going, It's only Ohio, they can wait.)

University of Texas fans probably wish that the local CBS affiliate had blacked out the last few minutes of that overtime loss to Wake Forest. Maybe a grisly screen shot from CSI can go up whenever a Rick Barnes-coached player steps to the free throw line to block viewers from real horror.

It just shows that even when the NCAA Tournament has its best day in years — Old Dominion knocking off Notre Dame, little Ohio University blowing out Georgetown, perennial Cinderella Murray State beating Vanderbilt at the buzzer — broadcasting entities can still find a way to screw it up.

This muddled March Madness is taking place just weeks after NBC managed to turn the Olympics into one big ad for a mediocre TV show (Parenthood). Sports TV is in a slump. The directors of these broadcasts have more toys to play with then ever and still nary a clue. (One of the problems reportedly happened because a single guy forgot to push the button to switch to Old Dominion-Notre Dame. You wouldn't want to have any oversight or make use of computer technology ...)  

Network decision makers still cannot seem to grasp that their audience is media savvy, that just doing OK isn't going to be considered enough in an era of instant information.

CBS' Boss Button may have finally found its way into The Dilbert comic strip this year, but to most of us it's already long past tired as "the big innovation." What about something truly groundbreaking? Like getting the basics right.

Then, you can get around to Ohio.

News_NCAA_Notre Dame_Old Dominion_Bazemore_AP
Sixth-seeded Notre Dame fell to Old Dominion in the first round. Too bad CBS forgot to switch to the finish in the Midwest. Courtesy of Bazemore/AP