TV Ratings: March Madness Nips at TGIT’s Heels in Primetime

March Madness Wisconsin Virginia Tech
AP/REX/Shutterstock

We now return to our regularly scheduled ratings posts.

Thursday, in case you hadn’t been looking at the Internet, was the first day of March Madness, leading to heartbreak for some (Maryland, Virginia Tech) and elation for others (Northwestern, winning its first-ever NCAA Tournament game).

CBS’ primetime portion of the first day of March Madness represented a significant drop from its usual Thursday comedies, but was still almost enough to tie ABC’s TGIT lineup in the 18-49 demographic for the whole night. The first game of the evening, Maryland vs. Xavier, began at 7:10 p.m., and the second, Wisconsin vs. Virginia Tech, didn’t end until a little after prime time. But from the hours of 8 to 11 p.m., CBS drew an average 1.3 rating in the demo and an average audience of 4.6 million, according to Nielsen’s non-time-zone-adjusted fast national numbers.

ABC’s Shondaland dramas did still rule the roost, though, with “Grey’s Anatomy” ticking back up to a 2.0 in the demo and bringing in 7.95 million viewers. “Scandal” followed with a steady 1.4 in the demo and 5.8 million viewers. “The Catch” stayed steady as well with a 0.8 demo rating and 3.93 million viewers. ABC’s 18-49 average rating for the night was a 1.4, a hair above CBS’ 1.3.

“Superstore” came back from a week off on NBC to deliver a 1.1 rating in the demo and 4.2 million viewers, followed by a “Trial & Error” repeat. “Chicago Med”  bounced back from a low last week to a 1.4 in the demo and 7.17 million viewers. “Blacklist: Redemption” tied “The Catch” in the demo with a 0.8 but beat it in total viewers, with an average audience of 4.18 million.

Fox’s “MasterChef Junior” came in at a 1.1 in the demo and 3.9 million viewers. “Kicking and Screaming” dipped to a 0.6 and 2.02 million viewers.

The CW was in repeats.

As a reminder, daily ratings fluctuations tend to amount to mere quantum foam, and many of these series will see lifts of 50% or more once viewing within three and seven days is counted. However, most of those gains won’t translate to the ratings guarantees networks make advertisers.

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