NCAA finals tops ratings while 'Dancing' charms viewers

Show Network Rating (18-49) Share Viewers (millions)
1. NCAA Basketball Finals CBS 6.5 17 19.1
2. Dancing With the Stars ABC 5.0 14 20.9
3. Rules of Engagement CBS 3.6 10 10.1
4. The Big Bang Theory CBS 3.5 11 10.7
5. Castle ABC 3.0 8 12.3
6. 24 FOX 2.3 6 7.2
7. Chuck NBC 2.1 6 5.7
8. Trauma NBC 1.5 4 5
9. Law and Order NBC 1.3 3 4.7
10. Gossip Girl CW 1.0 3 1.7

Duke’s thrilling two-point win over Butler for the NCAA title was a big winner for CBS as the Eye saw a 34% improvement in the overnight household rating from last year’s college hoops championship. Combined with strong lead-ins, CBS took the night over ABC, but the Alphabet was consoled by the fact it drew the most viewers Monday and once again saw healthy returns for a two-hour “Dancing With the Stars.”

The game earned a 16 rating/25 share in overnight households for metered markets, and was tied for the 2005 game between North Carolina and Illinois. The high-water mark is 1999, when Connecticut and Duke played and scored a 16.9/25. Total viewer totals will arrive later this afternoon, and national ratings, which could jump as much as 20%, will be known at that point as well. From 11:30-11:45 ET, the numbers peaked to 20.3/35.

“Dancing With the Stars” (5.0 rating/14 share in the 18-49 demo, 20.9 million viewers) was by far the No. 1 non-sports program of the evening, and while off slightly from last week’s performance, the reality skein didn’t seem to be too hurt by the game since “Dancing” has a much more female-skewing demo than basketball. Combined with “Castle” (3.0/8, 12.3m), recently renewed for a new season, ABC was satisfied with the night’s results.

“Rules of Engagement” (3.6/10, 10.1m) and a repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” (3.5/11, 10.7m) acted as lead-ins in much of the country prior to the Duke win for CBS.

Fox opposed basketball with a two-hour edition of “24” (2.3/6, 7.2m), down 12% from a week ago and heading toward its final episode in May.

“Chuck” (2.1/6, 5.8m) matched a four-week high in the demo for NBC, followed by “Trauma” (1.5/4, 5m) and a repeat of “Law & Order” (1.3/3, 4.7m).

At the CW, “Life Unexpected” (0.8/2, 1.8m) and “Gossip Girl” (1.0/3, 1.7m) were just slightly below last week’s delivery.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 5.5/15; ABC, 4.4/ 12; Fox, 2.3/6; NBC, 1.6/4; Univision, 1.3/4; CW, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: ABC, 18 million; CBS, 16.2 million; Fox, 7.2 million; NBC, 5.1 million; Univision, 3.1 million; CW, 1.7 million.

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