Average television ratings for the 2012 NCAA Tournament slipped back to pre-Turner Sports levels.
The 2012 Men’s NCAA Tournament averaged a combined 6.1 U.S. rating and 9.6 million viewers on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV, according to Nielsen fast-nationals — down 5% in ratings and 6% in viewership from last year (6.4, 10.2M), and up 2% and 1%, respectively, from 2010 coverage on CBS alone (6.0, 9.5M).
The 6.1 average rating is tied as the fifth-lowest ever for the NCAA Tournament, ahead of only 2003 (5.0), 2008 (5.6), 2009 (5.7) and 2010 (6.0).
This marks the first time since 2008 that average ratings have declined for the NCAA Tournament.
Louisville was the top market for this year’s tournament, with a 27.7 average rating. Cincinnati (18.7), Columbus, OH (18.1), Indianapolis (15.2) and Kansas City (15.1) rounded out the top five.
Louisville also had the largest increase for the tournament, as the 27.7 rating was up 28% from last year. Atlanta (+19%), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (+17%), Columbus, OH (+12) and Orlando (+10%) rounded out the top five, and were the only other markets to have a double-digit rise.
(This year’s numbers from CBS Sports, with additional information from WLKY)