CBS tops ratings with NCAA hoops

Men's basketball tournament secures victory for net

Buoyed by five evening games decided by five points are less, CBS had a solid if unspectacular night of NCAA men’s basketball tournament coverage, easily winning Thursday primetime.

With “American Idol” having ended its brief Thursday run last week, there were no challenges to the Eye. According to fast nationals from Nielsen, March Madness drew a 3.7 rating and 11 share among viewers

18-49 and 10.3 million viewers overall, with the final contest ending slightly before 10 p.m. on the West Coast. Pending afternoon revisions, it appeared CBS would be able to record a slight gain compared with the opening night of the tournament in 2009.

NBC was the top network for the night offering scripted programming,

though its Thursday bellwether, “The Office” (3.6/10, 7.6 million) –

typically boosted by male viewership – got knocked by the NCAAs to its lowest raiting of the season. However, “30 Rock” (3.0/9, 6.9 million) had a slight upward bump at 9:30 p.m.

NBC’s “The Marriage Ref” (2.8/8, 7.6 million) led among non-sports programming at 10 p.m., besting ABC’s repeat of “Private Practice” (1.1/3, 4.3 million).

In what has become a game of leapfrog among NBC comedies in the 8 p.m.

hour, “Community (2.1/7, 5.2 million) bounced back ahead of “Parks and

Recreation” (2.0/6, 4.7 million) after falling behind last week.

“FlashForward” (1/9/6, 6.5 million), returning to the air with two new hours after a hiatus of more than three months, dropped 10% from its last original broadcast but topped the NBC sitcoms in overall viewers.

Fox aired reruns of “Bones” (1.5/5, 6.2 million) and “Fringe” (1.2/4,

4.4 million). The CW did the same with “The Vampire Diaries” (0.5/2,

1.4 million) and “Supernatural” (0.6/2, 1.4 million) Preliminary 18-49 averages: CBS 3.7/11, NBC 2.7/8, ABC 1.6/5, Fox 1.4/4, Univision 1.4/4, CW 0.6/2.

In total viewers: CBS 10.3 million, NBC 6.6 million, ABC 5.8 million, Fox 5.3 million, Univision 3.3 million, CW 1.4 million.

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