Record low score for Eye’s hoop final

Monday's game averages 17.09 million viewers

An exciting college basketball tournament ended in anticlimactic fashion Monday night on CBS, as a blowout victory for Connecticut over Georgia Tech resulted in subpar ratings.

According to in-home viewing estimates by Nielsen, Monday’s game averaged a slot-leading 17.09 million viewers and a 6.3/17 in adults 18-49, both the lowest on record for the event, which has been a CBS staple since 1982. Previous low-water marks came with last year’s Syracuse-Kansas matchup (18.57m, 7.5/18 in 18-49).

The Huskies had built a big lead before winning by 9 in a game that lacked the drama of Saturday’s semifinals. Overall, though, this year’s household tourney average was up 24% over last year (6.2/14 vs. 5.0/10), when the war in Iraq affected sports viewing.

Although CBS led the night in total viewers and key male demos, NBC hung tough and won in adults 18-49 and some femme categories with its combo of “Fear Factor” (5.6/17 in 18-49, 12.82m) and the two-hour finale of “Average Joe: Adam Returns” (5.0/13 in 18-49, 10.90m).

Peacock noted that its narrow victory in 18-49 (5.2 to a 5.1 for CBS) marked the first time in People Meter history that the Eye had failed to win the night of the college basketball final in adults 18-49.

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