Tournament TV Ratings Take Significant Drop

From Associated Press

With the nation's attention on the war in Iraq, TV ratings for the first evening of NCAA tournament coverage dropped more than 20% from last year.

CBS Sports' broadcast at 4:15 p.m. EST Thursday night drew a 5.2 overnight rating, down 29% from 2002. The 6:45 p.m. game's overnight rating was 4.7, a 15% decrease.

First-round games Thursday morning were carried by ESPN because CBS was airing war coverage. The opening game had a 1.2 national rating, down 62% from the 3.2 on CBS last year. The second day game had a 2.1 national rating, down 38% from 2002.

Cable channel ESPN is in about 20% fewer homes than CBS.

Ratings for cable news networks were up 444% during the afternoon Thursday and 355% at night when compared with the same day and time periods last year.

The rating is the percentage of all homes with televisions, whether or not they are in use. Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, covering nearly 70% of the nation.

Each overnight rating point represents about 735,000 TV homes.


An arrest warrant for Tony Cole was withdrawn Friday after the former Georgia basketball player apologized for missing a hearing on a misdemeanor assault charge.

Cole missed his Thursday hearing because he was not told about it, his lawyer, Steve Sadow, said. A new hearing was set for May 15.

Cole is accused of demanding to be let inside the home of a former girlfriend on Jan. 14. When the girl refused, Cole allegedly brandished an Uzi and threatened to shoot up the house, prosecutor Kim Brooks said. The weapon was not fired and no one was injured, Brooks said.

Cole has accused former Georgia assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr., son of Coach Jim Harrick, of paying off bills, performing schoolwork and teaching a bogus class on coaching. Harrick Jr. was fired, and the elder Harrick was suspended by the school.

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