Underdog stories in the NCAA Tournament are bad for ratings, according to the CBS Sports chairman.
Sean McManus appeared on Chris Russo’s Sirius XM show Mad Dog Unleashed Friday where he admitted Kentucky being knocked out of the tournament in the Sweet 16 was bad for TV.
In the audio captured by The Big Lead, McManus said it’s better for ratings to have near upsets of big schools like Kentucky than it is for an underdog team like UMBC to go on a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
“From a television standpoint, you really root for the big teams,” McManus said. “Last night’s Kentucky outcome was not good for us and not good for TBS at all. Kentucky being the blue bloods that they are, and having the television draw that they have, that really hurt us. Kansas State winning – I have nothing against Kansas State as a school or a team – but that really hurt us.”
While McManus said he didn’t have anything against Kansas State, he continued saying Kentucky was the team that should have won in their Sweet 16 matchup.
“And that was a game Kentucky should’ve won. All they gotta do is hit a few free throws at the end of the game and they win that game – that really hurt us,” McManus said.
The number nine seeded Kansas State pulled off the upset Thursday night and advanced to the Elite Eight following its 61-58 win over No. 5 Kentucky.
While McManus might be upset that a blue blood like Kentucky is out, the tournament still has some big college basketball programs still alive on the right side of the bracket.
Duke and Kansas will face off for a spot in the Final Four Sunday while Villanova will face Texas Tech.
McManus said Duke has the best TV draw in the tournament.
However, the left side of the bracket will have some fresh blood in the Final Four this year as Kansas State or Loyola Chicago will be coming out of the South and Michigan or Florida State will represent the West part of the bracket.
McManus wasn’t totally against the Loyola story because at least they have the Chicago market, but he still noted that blue blood programs often bring in more TV viewers.
“It’s a great story, I think Sister Jean is terrific, but to have an upstart like that go this far is not a disaster obviously, but not the best of all scenarios for us,” McManus said.