Hoops power Eye’s Monday

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

Despite what will likely rank as the lowest-rated NCAA men’s basketball tournament final on record, CBS recorded a victory Monday in all the key adult demos as well as total viewers, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

Reliable preliminary averages weren’t available for the Eye net’s individual programs due to the live basketball telecast, but in metered-market overnights the Syracuse-Kansas matchup, which began at about 9:15 ET, produced a 12.6 household rating/18 share – down 20% from last year’s Maryland-Indiana championship game. The tournament as a whole was down more than 20% year-to-year.

NBC was a strong second in adults 18-49 on the night and first in key female demos, paced by “Fear Factor” (slot-leading 5.7/15 in adults 18-49, 13.6 million viewers overall), “Third Watch” (5.4/13 in adults 18-49, 13 million viewers overall) and “Crossing Jordan” (4.5/10 in adults 18-49, 12 million viewers overall). Excluding last spring’s crossover episode with “ER,” this was the best delivery in the hour to date for “Third Watch,” which topped ABC’s competing drama “The Practice” (3.1/7 in adults 18-49) by 74%.

Fox ran third in adults 18-49 with both “Boston Public” (3.5/9 in adults 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall) and “Married by America” (3.5/8 in adults 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 5.9/14; NBC, 5.2/13; Fox, 3.5/9; ABC, 2.7/7.

In total viewers: CBS led with 15.3 million.

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