Last night marked the first time the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game has aired on cable, and Villanova’s buzzer-beating win over North Carolina averaged 17.8 million viewers across three Turner networks. Airing nationally from 9-11 PM ET on TBS, it was Monday’s most-watched program on all of TV.
The thriller was the second-most-watched college hoops game ever on cable, behind last year’s Wisconsin-Kentucky semifinal. The audience peaked at 22.3 million viewers during the game’s final moments. Demo numbers will be announced later.
The numbers also include the “Team Streams” that aired on Turner sister nets TNT and truTV. Those tailored telecasts feature separate announcing teams and multiple viewing options highlighting each of the competing schools.
Year-to-year comparisons don’t apply because of the title game airing on cable for the first time in the tournament’s 78-year history. CBS pulled down 28.3 million viewers for last year’s Duke win over Wisconsin.