Hoops hop for CBS

NCAA basketball tourney fuels CBS' Sunday

College basketball ratings continue to bounce the Eye’s way, with Sunday’s hardwood tourney action capping one of the strongest opening weekends in 12 years.

In Nielsen’s metered-markets, CBS Sports averaged a 5.9 household rating/12 share for its first four days of NCAA men’s basketball coverage, up 7% from last year to tie 1994 as the best initial-weekend average since 1993’s 6.2/14.

Sunday’s second-round contests (noon-7:30 p.m. ET) averaged a 7.1/15 in the metered markets, up 11% from a 6.4/14 last year.

The Duke-Mississippi State nailbiter (8.6/16 in the overnights) extended roughly 30 minutes into primetime in much of the country Sunday, dominating the competish. That led into strong scores for “60 Minutes” (roughly 4.2/12 in adults 18-49, 16.3 million) and “Cold Case” (roughly 4.5/11 in 18-49, 16.5 million).

From 9:30 to 11, CBS was a bit above average for its breathlessly promoted original movie “Spring Break Shark Attack” (prelim 4.0/10 in 18-49, 11.5 million).

Of note at NBC, “The Contender” (prelim 3.5/9 in adults 18-49, 7.8 million viewers) bulked up in its second Sunday seg, delivering the net’s best regular-slot score in the 8 o’clock slot in 14 months. It edged out Fox’s comedies to place third in the hour.

“Contender” may have benefited from an influx of young men into primetime courtesy of college basketball on CBS and from ABC airing a repeat of smash “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Viewers also might have been drawn by news that Sunday’s boxing match featured Najai Turpin, a contestant who later committed suicide.

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