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Thrilling Duke-Butler game gives CBS win

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. Duke

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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