CBS scores in ratings with hoops

'Motherhood' defeats 'My Name Is Earl'

March Madness continues to perform well for CBS Sports, with ratings for the men’s college basketball tourney up 10% vs. last year.

Auds are turning out in sizable numbers for matchups of the top-seeded teams in each bracket in a year without any real Cinderella stories.

Friday’s late action, highlighted by Michigan State’s narrow victory over Kansas in the Midwest semis, averaged a strong 7.4 household rating/13 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights. This repped a whopping 42% improvement over the same window a year ago and the best score for the late Friday contest in four years.

Overall through Friday, the tournament on CBS was averaging a 5.7 rating/12 share in the overnights, up from last year’s 5.2/11. Action continues Saturday with the Final Four and April 6 with the championship game.

Meanwhile, in series premiere news, ABC’s laffer “In the Motherhood” opened Thursday to a decent 2.2 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.70 million viewers overall, edging past fellow laffer “My Name Is Earl” on NBC (2.1/6, 5.89m).

“Motherhood,” starring Megan Mullally and Cheryl Hines, was up a bit over recent perfs in the 8 p.m. half-hour for “Ugly Betty.” While its overall score is nothing special, it’s a credible start considering it was up against Fox’s “American Idol” (7.7/21 in 18-49, 23.10m from 8 to 9 p.m.).

Airing behind “Motherhood,” returning comedy “Samantha Who?” averaged similar scores in its new timeslot (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.57m).

ABC captured the night’s middle hour with “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.6/13 in 18-49, 16.10m), though Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (4.5/11, 8.65m) and NBC’s “The Office” (4.5/11, 8.65m) also excelled opposite basketball on CBS.

In its penultimate episode, NBC’s “ER” (3.5/9 in 18-49, 10.36m) was neck and neck at 10 p.m. with ABC’s “Private Practice” (3.6/10, 10.12m). The Peacock vet wraps its 15-season run April 2 with a two-hour seg following a one-hour retrospective.

Also Thursday, Univision drew an impressive 2.9/8 in 18-49 and 6.6 million viewers overall for its three hour “Premio lo Nuestro 2009” — the top numbers to date for the annual kudocast honoring the best in Latin music. For the night, among adults 18-34, Univision (3.2/9) trailed only Fox and ABC.

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