Think Tank Express: Leaks, length sink NCAA Selection Show

It looks like Sir Charles had a little trouble with the Telly. (CBS)
It looks like Sir Charles had a little trouble with the Telly. (CBS)

It looks like CBS’ decision to expand its NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Show to two hours was a bust in more ways than one.

For years, the program revealed the brackets in the NCAA Tournament, first in a half-hour format, then expanded to an hour beginning in 2002. Then this year, someone had the bright idea of revealing the 68 teams in the tournament in a two-hour format, rather than the more rigid one-hour format.

And instead of a host and a single analyst, the show wound up with a host and five analysts.

When the show started at 4:30 p.m. local time, it took them twenty minutes to introduce the first regional bracket. But it took them nearly than a half-hour to release the next regional bracket. And so on.

They didn’t finish revealing all the brackets until a little after 6 p.m.

Why in the hell it took 77 minutes to reveal the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament?

The format obviously. Once they revealed a region, CBS analysts Doug Gottlieb and Clark Kellogg and Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, all took turns analyzing the matchups with Barkley fumbling with the touchscreen the most hilarious. Here’s a tip: reveal the brackets and then do the analysis. In between the first and second bracket announcements, CBS added an interview with Kansas head coach Bill Self.

Frustrated with the slow pace, the complete bracket was leaked on Twitter, which yours truly got a hold of and retweeted – and they were 100 percent legit. NCAA officials say they’re looking into the breach, but in an age of the Internet and social media, what did you expect?

And of course, another reason for the two-hour expansion was to sell more advertising. But you knew that already, right?

But the best verdict on how the Selection Show was received were the ratings. The program earned a 3.7 overnight household rating, down 5 percent from last year. When final ratings a tallied, a historic low in the 34 years CBS has been carrying the show may be possible. Obviously, many viewers were frustrated with the snail’s pace and just grabbed the leaked brackets online.

What was supposed to be an informative show about the college basketball tournament turned into an agonizing, frustrating experience. But it could have been worse: