Powered by strong performers in drama, comedy and reality, as well as its annual dance from March Madness, CBS swept last week’s primetime ratings race in key demos as well as total viewers.

The men’s college basketball tournament delivered ratings lower than the typical Thursday and Friday nights on CBS, but the net was much stronger on Saturday thanks to hoops action — beating ABC, NBC and Fox combined — and an overrun on Sunday helped boost the net to a victory over its rivals for the night.

On the entertainment side, standouts included vets “How I Met Your Mother,” “NCIS” and “Survivor.”

Meanwhile, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” edged up as its nears its season finale, and remained easily primetime’s top-rated series among young adults.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for March 17-23, CBS led in adults 18-49 with a 1.8 rating/6 share, and was followed by NBC (1.6/5), ABC (1.5/5) and Fox (1.3/4). Fox was winning at this time a year ago, but it has been languishing in fourth place for the last month now and that doesn’t figure to change in the near future.

CBS also prevailed in adults 25-54 (2.4/7 to 2.1/6 for NBC) and total viewers (7.95 million to 6.42 million for ABC).

For CBS, “How I Met Your Mother” was the week’s top scripted broadcast (tie) and comedy in 18-49 (2.9/9 in 18-49, 7.78 million viewers overall, while Tuesday’s drama duo of “NCIS” (2.4/8 in 18-49, 17.11 million viewers overall) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 14.21 million viewers overall) placed first or second in their timeslots in key demos while ruling as the week’s most-watched scripted programs on any network.

Wednesday saw “Survivor” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 9.46 million viewers overall) top “American Idol” in key demos for their common hour for the second straight week, and “Criminal Minds” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 10.14 million viewers overall) pulled to within one tick of “Idol” in 18-49.

“The Good Wife,” which on Sunday started about 40 minutes late in most of the country due to late-running college basketball, edged up for its best number in four airings (1.4/4 in 18-49, 9.12 million viewers overall). The show created more buzz and Twitter traffic than usual on Sunday with the surprise death of one of its core characters.

At NBC, “The Voice” and “The Blacklist” accounted for three of the top five shows of the week in 18-49, with that tandem sweeping Monday’s half-hours.

The net’s other drama highlights included “Parenthood” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.22 million viewers overall) matching its best rating since October; “Chicago Fire” hitting a 10-week high (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.96 million viewers overall); and “Grimm” standing as Friday’s top-rated scripted series of the night (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.71 million viewers overall).

On the comedy front, “About a Boy” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 7.61 million viewers overall) and “Growing Up Fisher” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 6.60 million viewers overall) grew week to week and continue to look like keepers.

It was a sluggish start, though, for alternative series “American Dream Builders” in its premiere on Sunday (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.60 million viewers overall). And that night’s “Believe” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 5.13 million viewers overall) and “Crisis” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 5.14 million viewers overall) remain modest performers — though the latter has consistently matched or built on its lead-in.

ABC welcomed back “Dancing With the Stars” to pretty good numbers Monday (2.6/7 in 18-49, 15.44 million viewers overall) — down from last year (when it didn’t have to face “The Voice”) but a solid second in demos opposite the music contest. “Dancing” was the week’s No. 2 show in total viewers.

The Alphabet also got winning performances from “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 8.09 million viewers overall) and “Scandal” (2.9/9 in 18-49, 9.08 million viewers overall) on Thursday and “Shark Tank” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 8.29 million viewers overall) and “20/20” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.51 million viewers overall) on Friday. And Tuesday’s “The Goldbergs” continues to look pretty good (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.74m), rising week to week despite a softer lead-in this time

Sunday’s dramas “Once Upon a Time” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.91 million viewers overall) and “Resurrection” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 9.51m) slumped in their third week together, though the latter was still the top broadcast on the night in 18-49.

Fox’s only representatives in the top 20 were “American Idol” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 9.83 million viewers overall) and “Family Guy” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.38 million viewers overall), which tied at No. 14.

The net’s new science series “Cosmos” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 4.25m) fell off a bit but is still performing pretty well given its subject matter and tough timeslot.


Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

CBS             1.8/6
NBC            1.6/5
ABC             1.5/5
Fox              1.3/4
UNI             1.0/3
CW              0.7/2
TEL             0.4/1

Total Viewers

CBS             7.95 million
ABC            6.42 million
NBC            6.34 million
Fox              4.30 million
UNI             2.61 million
CW              1.74 million
TEL             1.15 million

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.   The Walking Dead (AMC), 6.7/17
2.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 4.1/12
3.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 3.6/11
4.  Scandal (ABC), 2.9/9
4.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 2.9/9
6.  The Blacklist (NBC), 2.7/8
6.  Talking Dead (AMC), 2.7/7
8.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 2.6/7
9.  Survivor (CBS), 2.5/8
9.  Resurrection (ABC), 2.5/6
11.  NCIS (CBS), 2.4/8
11.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.4/7
13.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 2.3/6
14.  NCAA men’s basketball-Saturday (CBS), 2.2/8
14.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 2.2/7
14.  Criminal Minda (CBS), 2.2/6
14.  Family Guy (Fox), 2.2/6
14.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 2.2/6
19.  Shark Tank (ABC), 2.1/7
19.  About a Boy (NBC), 2.1/6
19.  Once Upon a Time (ABC), 2.1/6

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NCIS (CBS), 17.11
2.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 15.44
3.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 14.21
4.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 13.52
5.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 13.47
6.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 13.29
7.  60 Minutes (CBS), 11.31
8.  The Blacklist (NBC), 10.97
9.  Person of Interest (CBS), 10.94
10.  CSI (CBS), 10.20
11.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 10.14
12.  Castle (ABC), 9.99
13.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 9.83
14.  Resurrection (NBC), 9.51
15.  Survivor (CBS), 9.46
16.  The Good Wife (CBS), 9.12
17.  Scandal (ABC), 9.08
18.  The Amazing Race (CBS), 8.71
19.  20/20 (ABC), 8.51
20.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 8.41