NCAA Tournament Ratings At 24-Year High Through First Weekend


A spate of upsets especially in the weekend games helped the NCAA Tournament grow its ratings to the highest viewership it has seen in more than two decades through Sunday. Yesterday, which featured upset losses by a pair of No. 2 seeds in Duke and Louisville, drew 11.9 million viewers, up 34% compared with last year and the most-watched first Sunday since 1993.

Overall, the tournament, aired across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, has averaged 9.325 million viewers, up 10% from 2016 and the best number since 1993. Round of 16 games begin Thursday.

Sunday’s primetime window (5:05-9:25 PM ET) drew 18.6 million viewers and, the most-watched game in the time slot since 1991 when the tournament expanded to its TV format. Thanks to hoops, CBS dominated the night overall, with 60 Minutes (1.6/6) taking advantage by ranking as Sunday’s highest-rated non-sports show, and the most-watched with 10.58 million viewers.

CBS’ primetime numbers were skewed by NCAA overrun (3.5/14), with NCIS: Los Angeles (1.2/4) from 8:30-9:30 PM up a tenth right now with 8.99 million total viewers.

On NBC, Little Big Shots (1.5/5) was down two tenths with a new episode at 8 PM followed by rookie Chicago Justice (1.0/4), also down 0.2, at 9 PM. Over on ABC, its newbie Time After Time (0.4/2) also took a two-tenths hit at 9 PM, while the second week of American Crime (0.4/2) fell a tenth at 10 PM against NBC’s just-renewed Shades Of Blue (0.8/3).

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