NCAA National Championship TV Ratings: Kansas’ Epic Comeback In Men’s Basketball Title Game Powers Turner Sports Broadcast To 18.5M Viewer Average

NCAA North Carolina Kansas National Championship Basketball
Kansas celebrates during the Jayhawks' second-half scoring run against North Carolina AP

Last night’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship nail-biter that saw Kansas defeat North Carolina 72-69 was the most-viewed NCAA Men’s Championship Game ever on cable television. The Kansas-UNC game delivered an average of 18.1 million viewers, based on total audience delivery. That’s up 4% over last year’s National Championship match up between Baylor and Gonzaga.

It didn’t hurt that the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks staged the biggest halftime comeback in championship game history, from down 15 to a 3 point margin of victory.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ telecast across TBS, TNT and truTV makes Kansas-North Carolina the third most-watched college basketball game in cable TV history. Saturday’s UNC-Duke Final Four National Semifinal matchup, featuring the final game of legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, averaged 18.5 million viewers. That puts it second all-time.

The 2022 NCAA Men’s Tournament airing across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV averaged 10.7 million total viewers and a 17.0 share (the percentage of households or viewers who are watching television at that time) for its 67 live game telecasts. Both those measures are up 13% over last year. The 17.0 share is the best for the entire NCAA Men’s Tournament since 1994.

The 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship game on Sunday featuring South Carolina’s wire-to-wire victory scored 4.85 million viewers to become the most-watched women’s title game since 2004. It was the fourth-largest audience to watch a women’s championship game since ESPN began exclusively airing the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament in 1996.

The 4.85 million viewers tuning in across ESPN networks Sunday was the most-watched cable program of the day, an audience increase of 18 percent year-over-year and 30 percent from 2019.

Back on the men’s side, NCAA March Madness Live set multiple all-time records for last night’s Kansas/UNC championship, including the largest audience and most minutes consumed for a single game in MML history. Kansas/UNC netted a peak of 1.6 million concurrent streams, breaking the previous record set just two days prior during the Duke/UNC showdown. This year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament generated the most live uniques for any full tournament in MML history, a 12% increase over the previous record, which was set in 2019.

Official NCAA Men’s March Madness social handles generated a 58% increase vs. the previous all-time high, set in 2021. For last night’s Championship Game, social engagements saw a 33% lift compared to the prior record.

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