UPDATE, 2:38 PM: It was all Sweet 16 in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday and the primetime games proved quite sweet for CBS, as the final ratings reveal. Let’s just start off saying it was all double digits over the first Thursday of the college basketball tourney. Starting at 6:45 PM, Notre Dame’s 81-70 win over Wichita State drew a 1.9/8 rating and 6.96 million viewers. The first game of Thursday’s primetime was up 19% among adult 18-49 over what the much more dramatic 1-point win by Cincinnati over Purdue got as the first prime game of March 19. In viewership, the Irish’s victory was up 26% from the Cincinnati win of the week before. Compared to the comparable game on the second Thursday of March Madness 2014, the Wichita loss was steady among the demo, with a 5% slip. With 7.11 million tuning in for that Dayton vs. Stanford game on March 27, 2014, last night’s game barely miss a shot with just a 2% change.
The real big numbers came for the Kentucky vs. West Virginia game – and not just the 78 – 39 win for the Wildcats. Undefeated this season and of course this tournament, Kentucky are now undeniably one of the big draws of this year’s b-ball battles. Breaking the blowout rule and bringing smiles all round at CBS I’ll bet, their pounding of the Mountaineers got a 2.7/9 rating and 8.04 million total viewers. Primetime Game 2 to primetime Game 2, last night’s court action scored a jaw-dropping 50% demo rise over when the Wildcats thrashed Hampton by 23-points on March 19. In total viewers, last night’s 9:30 PM starting game was up 47% over the Kentucky v. Hampton match-up, that began 10:07 PM. Looking at the Game 2 of CBS’ March 27, 2014 primetime, last night’s game was up a slim win of 4% in the 18-49s and 11% in total viewership. Now we get into the Elite Eight and toward Kentucky and Notre Dame facing off tomorrow night the NCAA favorite has become the one to truly watch. It all comes to an end on April 6 with the final in Indianapolis.
In other primetime ratings adjustments, ABC’s American Crime shifted up a tenth from fast nationals to a 1.3/4 – which means the John Ridley created limited series is up 8% from last week
PREVIOUS, 8:56 AM: The second Thursday of the 2015 NCCA Tournament saw Notre Dame and Kentucky move on to the Elite Eight with primetime wins on CBS. Well, let’s be honest, that second game of the night on the network wasn’t a mere win by the undefeated Wildcats: With a blowout 78-39 victory over West Virginia, it was a decimation that should leave future opponents very afraid moving towards the final next month.
In fast nationals, last night March Madness double shot of Kentucky-West Virginia and Notre Dame-Wichita State snagged a 2.4/8 among adults 18-49 for CBS. That’s steady with 2014, with a 4% slip from the preliminary numbers of the second Thursday of last year (2.5/8), which went on to get a 2.0/7 for the Dayton-Stanford game and 2.6/9 for UCLA-Florida in final numbers. However, compared to the early numbers of last week’s first Thursday games, which included that very very close Cincinnati win over Purdue, last night’s NCAA clashes were up 20%. As it looks right now, CBS won the night in the demo and in total viewers with 7.79 million tuning in.
Obviously being live sports, ratings will be adjusted later, but we have some pretty illuminating other NCAA numbers to look at in the meantime. Metered market ratings saw yesterday’s regional semifinals coverage on CBS and the Turner broadcasters hitting a 25-year high with a 9.1/16. Not only is that the best the NCAA Tourney’s ratings have done since the present TV format started back in 1991, but it also surged 30% over the second Thursday of 2014. Centering in closer to primetime, CBS and TBS’ mutual coverage averaged a 9.3/17 overnight rating – again, another high since 1991 and a 39% jump over the comparable night last year. So far, the 2015 NCAA Tournament is pulling in a 7.0/15 overnight for CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV — the best the tournament has achieved since 1991 and up 9% over last year.
With all that, college basketball wasn’t the only thing on TV last night. Fox’s night started with the return of Bones (1.3/4) after a long break that started on December 11 last year. The first of the final 12 episodes of the Hart Hanson-created series’ 10th season was basically steady with its last original with an 8% rise in the key demo. Backstrom (0.9/3) followed with a 9% slip from its last new show March 5.
Over on ABC, Grey’s Anatomy (2.2/8) rose 5% from last week’s series low but Scandal (2.3/7) slipped 4% to what is a new season low in preliminary numbers. However, Scandal tends to see some adjustment in later ratings so that low could become a non-issue. Closing out ABC’s night, limited series American Crime (1.2/4) was even with its March 19 episode.
With the competition of the NCAA tourney, NBC took a hit on Thursday with Dateline: The Real Blacklist (1.0/4) and The Blacklist (1.6/5) down 17% and 11%, respectively, with the drama series hitting a series low in early numbers. The Blacklist does see movement in later ratings so just leave that number penciled in for now. NBC’s limited series The Slap (0.7/2) was even with last week’s show.