Game draw lowest since '72

Connecticut’s down-to-the-wire upset win over Duke in Monday’s men’s college basketball championship game slipped a modest 3% below results for last year’s Kentucky-Utah finale, leaving this year’s contest with the lowest hoops final ratings since 1972 and the lowest ever in primetime.

According to Nielsen, Monday’s U. of Connecticut Huskies’ victory over the Blue Devils snared a 17.2 rating, 27 share in homes and an 11.0/29 in adults 18-49. These figures are down from last year’s stats (17.8/28 in homes, 11.9/30 in adults 18-49), which included what was then the game’s lowest-ever primetime homes score.

Household ratings for the championship game now have declined for six of the past seven years after peaking with 1992’s Duke-Michigan showdown (22.7/35).

By ordinary primetime standards, though, it was a huge night for CBS, which earned its best Monday 8-11 p.m. ratings in a year (13.4/21 in homes, 7.8/21 in adults 18-49) and topped its seasonlong Monday homes average by 47% (13.4 vs. 9.1).

The U. Conn.-Duke contest equaled the homes rating of college football’s title game on ABC on Jan. 4 (17.2/26) and bounced 3% ahead of football in adults 18-49 (11.0 vs. 10.7).

‘Century’ in decline

Monday’s basketball stuffed the first episode of ABC’s ambitious documentary series “The Century” (7.6/12 in homes, 3.7/9 in adults 18-49), which settled for the Alphabet’s second-lowest 18-49 rating in that slot in the last seven weeks.

NBC counterprogrammed hoops the most effectively with the Julia Roberts pic “Something to Talk About” (9.8/15 in homes, 5.1/13 in adults 18-49). Fox’s two hours of “Ally McBeal” reruns (6.3/10 in homes, 4.6/12 in adults 18-49) finished a close third in 18-49 standings.

Head-to-head, the basketball game won its slot in women 18-49 with a 7.6 average in primetime. Hoops also beat the combined Big Four competition in men 18-49 (13.3 vs. the ABC-NBC-Fox total of 11.2).

Monday’s 17.2 rating in homes is the lowest for an NCAA hoops final since 1972, when the UCLA-Florida State matchup was telecast outside of primetime and managed a 16.0 rating.

Tournament tumbles

CBS’ primetime coverage of this year’s entire NCAA men’s tournament averaged an 8.1/15, down 2% from last year’s 8.3/15.

The NCAA women’s basketball title game, televised Sunday on ESPN, netted a 1.8 rating nationally in adults 18-49, compared with the men’s 11.0 on Monday night. Counting only the 75% of the country’s TV homes that are reached by ESPN, the women’s game earned a 3.3 in households vs. the men’s national 17.2.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 994,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.239 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it’s measured against only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.

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