March 20, 2015

SKEDBALL: March Madness TV Ratings through the First Thursday

CBS had a terrific start to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament with its two late games Thursday, right around 5.5 million viewers ages 2+.  These audience levels are among the best ratings for this day in recent years: the 7:00 pm game on CBS (#8-Cincinnati beating #9-Purdue 66-65 in OT in telecast 7 of the tournament) averaged 5,514,000 viewers and the 10:07 pm nightcap (#1-Kentucky pushing #16-Hampton aside 79-56 in telecast 8 of the tournament) averaged 5,460,000 viewers, a great number for a blowout.  Clearly, a lot of momentum building for Kentucky, the favorite to go all the way.  The ratings for the other two CBS games earlier in the day Thursday (telecasts 5 and 6) are not available.  Only prime time ratings for broadcast networks are available the next day, another peculiar Nielsen habit.

Cable networks on the other hand, get ratings for all dayparts the next day, and the four games on TBS, TNT and TRU TV were each very much in line with previous years.  But given the strong CBS start, interest seems very strong in the early going.

March Madness 2012 to 2015 through Day 3 telecast 20

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.