CBS tuned up for NCAA basketball Final Four coverage with healthy numbers for last weekend’s games, while other wins went to the usual suspects in Nielsen daytime and fringe ratings for the week ended March 28.

Last Saturday’s second tournament game, Indiana vs. Kansas, scored a stellar 11.9 rating, 25 share, the best rating for a regional final since Georgetown-Georgia Tech in 1985 and a tenth of a rating point better than last year’s overtime Duke-Kentucky shootout.

The two Sunday games averaged a 10.8/27, up 8% compared to the comparable match-ups last year. Overall weekend coverage averaged a 10.4/26, a 1% increase.

NCAA basketball coverage again reduced CBS clearances in Saturday morning, dropping the network to third place in that daypart and helping the Fox Children’s Network rank first among kids age 2-11 for the second consecutive week.

Fox averaged a 5.6 among kids to a 5.1 for ABC, which tied the affiliate co-op venture in households with a 3.2/12 each. CBS posted a 5 rating with kids and a 3.0/11 overall. Fox has now ranked first in the children’s demo eight of the last 12 weeks.

In other areas, CBS notched its 212th consecutive daytime win in terms of households with a 5.6/21, topping ABC (4.9/17) and NBC (3.0/11). ABC posted a 4 rating among women 18-49 compared to CBS’ 3.3 in that demo and a 1.8 for NBC. All four ABC soaps were up in households compared to first-quarter ’92, with “All My Children” improving by an impressive 11%.

“Good Morning America” also ran its current streak in the breakfast battle to 20 weeks with a 4.7/19 to “Today’s” 4.1/17 and a 3.2/13 for “CBS This Morning,” which is nonetheless up 19% over the same stretch last season. “GMA,” meanwhile, finished the first quarter of ’93 up 12% over a year ago, with a 4.8/20 average to NBC’s 4.4/19. “Nightline” also finished the quarter in first place — a feat it hasn’t achieved since first-quarter ’91 — and again tied for the top spot last week in its common half-hour with “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” both posting a 5.2/14. “Tonight” had another solid week with a 4.5/14 overall, while CBS’ “Crime Time” action shows (preempted two nights due to basketball) averaged a 2.8/11.

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