March 12, 2012

The Sked: MARCH MADNESS — Ratings Outlook

More articles by »
Written by: Mitch Metcalf
Tags: , , , ,

>March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, kicks off this week on CBS and a trio of cable networks (TNT, TBS and TruTV) with University of Kentucky, Michigan State, Syracuse and University of North Carolina the #1 seeds in the four regions.  The ratings impact in prime time is minimal the first week but builds steadily in the second and third weeks as CBS becomes the exclusive broadcaster. 

CBS coverage Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights should average less than a 2 rating with Adults 18-49 this week, similar to last year’s format when CBS and the three cable partners split the games with each contest running nationally against the others.  Until 2010, CBS covered the entire tournament and regionalized the games, and if a game was unusually lopsided that section of the country got switched to a more exciting contest.  CBS had higher ratings in the first week in the old format broadcasting solo, but the additional cable partners allow them to afford the entire tournament and keep the crown jewel, the championship game, on over-the-air television.

Next week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights CBS should bounce around a 3 rating, while the real value of March Madness is cashed in when the calendar turns to April with a 7 rating or more on Monday, April 2.  Now go fill out your bracket.

          NCAA Basketball Tournament  
      Primetime Adult 18-49 Rating (CBS)

               2012    2011    2010    2009
Rounds 1 & 2
   Thu 3.15             1.7     3.5     3.6
   Fri 3.16             1.5     3.4     3.0
   Sat 3.17             1.5     3.6     3.7
Sweet 16 &
 Elite 8
   Thu 3.22             2.5     3.9     3.6
   Fri 3.23             2.7     3.4     3.6
   Sat 3.24             3.5     4.0     3.8
Final Four
   Sat 3.31             5.1     4.8     5.0
   Mon 4.02             7.1     8.2     6.3


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.