Turner offered localized NCAA semifinal games for first time

Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting this past Saturday offered up a most unusual set up: it split the NCAA semifinal games into three different broadcasts.

TBS aired a national feed of the two games (Florida vs. UConn and Wisconsin vs. Kentucky) with Jim Nantz doing play by play with analysts Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr and reporter Tracy Wolfson for support.

Then for the first time, Turner provided localized versions of the game for fans of each of the four teams on TNT and truTV.

Each broadcast provided specific team and player story lines, custom music, graphics and show packaging, additional cameras and locally focused replays and custom halftimes with school features. This enabled fans of neither team as well as fans of each team to get the best experience possible, the network said.

The ratings were solid: 11.7 million for the UConn/Florida game and 16.3 million for the evening Wisconsin/Kentucky game. Those were combined across the three networks. They aren't as good as they were last year when CBS aired the respective semifinals, which drew 14.47 million and 17.1 million respectively. Year over year, the comparable games combined fell 11 percent in total ratings. Then again, basic cable networks such as TNT and TBS reach less than 90 percent of households vs. closer to 98 percent for CBS.

Over on TNT, a Florida-focused broadcast featured David Steele, who has previously hosted University of Florida basketball and football television and radio coverage and is the current voice of the Orlando Magic.

On sister station TruTV, the UConn-centered show featured  Eric Frede, a Connecticut native who covered the UConn men's program this year as a studio host for CSN New England.

TNT, after the Florida-UConn game featured a Kentucky-led team including Rob Bromley, a long-time Kentucky sports anchor who has handled play-by-play, sideline and color commentary for basketball and football on UKTV for more than 30 years, teamed with former Kentucky star Rex Chapman as the analyst.

TruTV's Wisconsin feed included Wayne Larrivee, who has called Wisconsin games on the Big Ten Network this season, for play-by-play commentary.

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