March Madness TV Ratings: Tourney Still Hot Entering Final Four

Posted by | March 31, 2014 at 11:58 PM

The 2014 NCAA Tournament has continued to generate strong numbers for CBS and Turner Sports.

Entering the Final Four, the NCAA Tournament has averaged a combined 6.2 U.S. rating and 9.8 million viewers on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV, according to Nielsen fast-nationals — flat in ratings and up 1% in viewership from last year (6.2, 9.7M), and up 9% and 12%, respectively, from 2012 (5.7, 8.7M).

The rating is tied as the best through the Elite Eight since 2008, and viewership is the highest at this point since 1993.

Not including Sunday’s games, the top telecast window thus far was early evening coverage on March 23, which earned a combined 16.1 million viewers on CBS, TBS and TNT. The top individual game was Kentucky/Wichita State on March 23 (12.1M), followed by Iowa State/North Carolina the same day (11.6M), Kentucky/Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen (10.1M), Wisconsin/Arizona on TBS in the Elite Eight (9.9M), and Michigan/Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen (8.3M).

Keep in mind that list does not include Sunday’s Elite Eight games. Kentucky/Michigan earned a 9.0 overnight, down 4% from Louisville/Duke last year (9.4), up 15% from Kansas/North Carolina in 2012 (7.8), and likely to finish as the top telecast entering the Final Four. In the early window, Connecticut/Michigan State drew a 6.5 — up 5% from Michigan/Florida last year (6.2) and up 23% from Baylor/Kentucky in 2012 (5.3).

(Tournament-to-date numbers from Turner Sports, with additional info from Sports Business Daily)