CBS commentary during Super Bowl blackout was an embarrassment, but ratings were fantastic

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Darkness at halftime. ()
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The Lineup collects the media stories, big and small, that are on our radar each day.

Last night's Super Bowl was the highest-rated ever.

Forbes' Jeff Bercovici reports:

According to Nielsen, the so-called overnight rating for the game was a 48.1, the highest ever for a Super Bowl. The rating reflects the percentage of households watching television that tuned in to a given show.

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Last year’s game, between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, earned a 47.8 rating and   turned out to be the most-watched American television program ever, with an audience of 111.3 million.

As The New York Times' Bill Carter notes, the awkward 34-minute blackout that interrupted the game helped drive those ratings:

The value of the blackout was in pushing more of the game into prime-time hours—especially because the end of the game was compelling. The last half hour of the game was the highest rated of the night, with a 52.9 rating, and a 75 share of the national audience. (the share is the percentage of all viewers watching television at the time.)

As for CBS' handling of the blackout, well, take it away, Will Leitch:

That was the worst display of broadcasting I've seen in my entire life. CBS probably would have been better off if it had just kept the screen blank for the whole half hour. We are all stupider for having witnessed it. I spent most of the rest of the third quarter sweeping up all my dead brain cells off the floor.

Obviously, CBS couldn't have anticipated power suddenly going out in the press box, and the mics of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz being shut off -- it's not exactly the type of thing you put together a plan for in prep -- but never has the vapidity of NFL commentators been more painfully in evidence. It is amazing, in the year 2013, that these are the people who are paid to talk live on television. That's their job. Professionally. The blackout, essentially, turned the most watched program in the United States into "Saturday Night Live's" famous "Wake Up and Smile" sketch.

The idiocy and desperation was so unrelenting that I couldn't quite document it all even if I tried.

Ouch.

In other news...

CNN staffer on Jeff Zucker: "He’s done more in the past two weeks than anyone has done in the past two years.” [New York Post]

Who will replace Steve Capus at NBC News? [The Hollywood Reporter]

CNET martyr lands at The Verge. [NYT/Media Decoder]

Teen Vogue at 10. [The New York Times]

Gannett's fourth-quarter earnings were better than expected. [Reuters]

Quotes of the day...

Zucker is no more lacking in distinctive ideas than his predecessors at CNN, a deep bench of middle-aged establishment men without meaningful opinions, nor the slightest inclination to deviate from the conventional wisdom, and certainly not the faintest tingle of subversiveness. The difference between those bland men and the equally "white bread" Zucker (a product of Harvard, NBC, and the General Electric Corporation) is that he, while without bold ideas, is nonetheless super-aggressive. ... Zucker, the hands-on guy, is already cutting through the bureaucracy. He's present; he's everywhere. He's part of the daily process.

Michael Wolff

Having been at The Times for only about five months, I’m far from the leading expert on the senior editors who are taking buyouts and leaving the company. But I do know that they represent a range of talents, experience and character traits that will be sorely missed — from journalistic ability to operational skills to the courage to deliver tough messages.

Margaret Sullivan

On Twitter...

On TV...

ICYMI, here's a snippet of Scott Pelley's Super Bowl pre-game CBS interview with President Obama:

From our inbox...

The Washington Post has named a new managing editor:

The Washington Post today announces that Kevin Merida becomes managing editor for The Washington Post, responsible for news and features coverage as well as the Universal News Desk. His new role is effective immediately.

Reporting to Merida will the editors of The Post’s National, Foreign, Metro, Business, Sports, Investigations, Outlook, Style, Arts, Travel, Food, Local Living and Weekend/Going Out Guide sections and The Washington Post Magazine. He joins managing editor John Temple, who in his role will now oversee digital operations and initiatives, all presentation units, the multiplatform desk, budgeting, and newsroom operations.

"Kevin is a journalist of remarkable accomplishment, with a record of strong leadership. During his 20 years at The Post, he has covered Congress and presidential campaigns, as well as stories that called upon his great strengths as a long-form feature writer. He has cultivated a talented staff on the National desk, and he has won the admiration and affection of his colleagues. I'm delighted to have him leading coverage across the entire newsroom,” said Marty Baron, Executive Editor for The Washington Post.

Most recently, Merida was The Post’s national editor, leading the coverage of news events that have consumed the country’s attention: the BP oil spill, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the 2012 presidential campaign, the Ft. Hood, Aurora and Newtown shootings, the battle over health care, the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff fights, and more. During his tenure, Fact Checker was introduced, The Fix was expanded, and The Post started a new blog, She the People, to showcase the voices of women. The Post’s national staff also enhanced its digital presence through live-blogging as well as The Grid, providing comprehensive coverage of live events.

Merida was raised in the Washington, D.C., area and graduated from Boston University in 1979 with a degree in journalism. He is the co-author of the biography “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas,” and co-author of the bestselling “Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs.” Merida is married to author and former Post columnist Donna Britt. They have three sons and live in Silver Spring, Md.

A new "digital platform" at The Wall Street Journal:

The Wall Street Journal announced today the debut of a full digital platform for Journal Reports, the franchise that has offered probing journalism in print for three decades. The new platform, now called Journal Report, integrates the traditional in-depth features of the print edition with the most experimental and interactive features of digital journalism to build communities and increase conversation around the Report’s coverage.

As part of the new integrated digital platform, Journal Report has assembled an elite group of approximately 100 industry influencers and thought leaders called “The Experts” to generate probing and insightful online dialogue with readers through live blogs and social video, including Google+ Hangouts.

Some of the Experts include: Kim Campbell (@AKimCampbell), the first female prime minister of Canada; Bob Kerrey (@kerreybob), former U.S. senator and governor of Nebraska; Amy Tan (@AmyTanWriter), author of The Joy Luck Club; actress Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair); and Scott Adams, founder of Dilbert (@Dilbert_Daily). Overseeing the Experts is Charlie Wells (@CharlieWWells), whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic and the Boston Globe, and who was recently hired by the Journal to expand the Report’s presence online.

“We’re thrilled and humbled to have assembled some of the most respected and talented leaders in the country to anchor the communities and conversations we’ll be building through our new integrated Journal Report platform,” said Larry Rout, Wall Street Journal senior editor who oversees the Reports. “This platform allows us to provide the most optimized and interactive experience to keep our readers as informed as they are engaged.”

In addition to the launch of Journal Report’s digital platform, the print edition, which plans to publish some 60 reports this year as standalone sections in the Journal, has undergone a redesign over the past month featuring new columns and a more graphic-intensive presentation. To provide readers with a fully integrated experience, future print issues will incorporate highlights from the online dialogue generated by the Experts. This new integrated print and digital platform is the latest evolution of the Journal’s ongoing commitment to provide an exclusive forum for readers to engage with the Journal’s extensive network of influencers.

Each Journal Report will fall into one of six verticals – small business, retirement, leadership, energy, health care, and wealth management – which will bring together all relevant Journal Report coverage into one place, including current and past articles, the Experts stream, videos and tweets. The vertical nature of the topics online also creates an effective channel for advertisers to target specific niches adjacent to highly relevant content.

In addition, tomorrow, Tuesday, February 5, Journal Report will be hosting a Google+ Hangout moderated by Journal news editor Karen Damato (@DamatoK). The topic will cover the opportunities and pitfalls of investing in funds and ETFs, and feature three guests: Gus Sauter, Vanguard’s chief investment officer from 2003 until 2012; Dr. Meir Statman, Glenn Klimek Professor of Finance at the Leavey School of Business, and Santa Clara University and Visiting Professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands; and Sheryl Garrett (@SherylGarrett), founder of The Garrett Planning Network.

To visit Journal Report, please visit: wsj.com/wealthreport