tampabay.com

Remote patrol

By SHARON GINN
Published March 3, 2006


NEWSMAKERS

Wonder why Barry Bonds dressed up this week as Paula Abdul? Our guess is that it's an outrageous way to kick off his new reality show - er, documentary. ESPN Original Entertainment is following Bonds around in Bonds on Bonds as he chases Hank Aaron's home run record of 755. Bonds, who has 708 career home runs, says this will be his last season. The series will air on Tuesdays on ESPN, beginning April 4.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will become the first athlete to host the ESPY Awards, which air July 16. Armstrong, a cancer survivor, has won four ESPY Awards and likely will be nominated again. The show traditionally supports the V Foundation for Cancer Research and also will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation this year, according to ESPN.

CBS Sports' Lesley Visser was named a 2006 Gracie Allen Award winner by the American Women in Radio & Television. Visser, a pioneer in women's sports broadcasting, will be awarded the individual achievement award for outstanding reporter/correspondent on June 19.

CHECK IT OUT

1470-AM will air the final of the Class 5A boys basketball tournament tonight, with Chamberlain taking on Gainesville Eastside at 7.

Sun Sports' and FSN Florida's coverage of the SEC and ACC women's basketball tournaments continues through the weekend, with quarterfinals and semifinals in both conference tournaments airing today and Saturday. FSN Florida will air the ACC women's championship at 1 p.m. Sunday. The cable networks begin coverage of the SEC men's tournament Thursday.

OLYMPICS RATINGS WRAPUP

The Turin Games were the lowest-rated Olympics ever on prime time. Though NBC's 418 total hours of coverage across five networks gave a boost to its cable ratings, the average prime-time rating was just 12.2. That's down 20 percent from Nagano in 1998 and 39 percent from Salt Lake City in 2002. What's more, NBC's ratings in the 18-49 age group were not high enough to help it win the February sweeps in that coveted advertising demographic.

For the first time, the Olympics were routinely beaten by the other networks' big hits. On Sunday, Fox's coverage of the Auto Club 500 from California Speedway earned an 8.1 rating during the prime-time portion of the race, winning the 7-8 p.m. hour despite competition from NBC's Closing Ceremony coverage. Also on Sunday, ABC's Dancing with the Stars finale easily beat Olympics coverage from 8-10.

Tampa/St. Petersburg ranked No. 22 of the 55 metered markets, with an average prime-time rating of 14.0. Jacksonville was No. 17 (14.2), Orlando No. 35 (12.1) and Miami No. 53 (9.1).