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College Basketball Title Game Ratings on CBS Soar to 18-Year High: 28.3 Million Viewers

UPDATE: In updated nationals from Nielsen, Monday’s night’s college basketball game averaged 28.3 million viewers, up 33% from last year (21.3 million) and the largest audience for the championship contest in 18 years. The overall tournament average of 11.3 million viewers was an 8% spike over last year (10.5 million) and the best in 22 years.

The tournament was especially big online this year, as NCAA March Madness Live set record with 80.7 million live video streams and 17.8 million hours of live video consumption — up nearly 20% in both categories vs. last year. Last night’s National Championship registered a record-setting 3.4 million live video streams and 1 million hours of live video consumption, up nearly 70% vs. last year.


Monday’s NCAA basketball championship game between Duke and Wisconsin has delivered the event’s top overnight rating in 18 years, surging more than 30% above last year’s number and dominating the primetime ratings race for CBS.

Reliable total-viewer estimates will be issued later today by Nielsen, but Duke’s victory averaged a 17.1 household rating/27 share in the metered-market overnights, peaking with a 20.1/34 from 11 to 11:30 p.m. ET. This is a big 33% spike over last year (12.9/21 for Connecticut-Kentucky) and the highest since Arizona and Kentucky combined for a 18.0/28 in 1997.

Overall, the 2015 NCAA Tournament coverage across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 7.8/16 in the overnights, up 13% from last year and the best in 22 years (7.9/17 in 1993).

The top five metered markets for last night’s game were Milwaukee (42.2/59), Raleigh-Durham (36.2/54), Louisville (33.5/48), Columbus (29.9/44) and Greensboro/Winston-Salem (29.5/43).

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live garnered a record-setting 2.4 million live video streams for last night’s game — up 66% from last year.

Last year’s game ended up doing a 7.2 rating/20 share in adults 18-49 and 21.2 million viewers overall in the nationals. In the prelims, last night’s contest earned a 7.2/21 in the demo and 22.6 million total viewers on the CBS stations from 9 to 11 p.m., and these numbers will swell once the full duration of the game and all West Coast viewing is included.

Elsewhere in primetime, NBC’s “The Voice” remained the top series in key demos (2.9/9 in 18-49, 10.7 million viewers overall), down about 9% from last week. ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 13.5 million viewers overall), down a tick, was again the most-watched series overall.

Despite a lower “Voice” and up opposite college basketball, NBC’s “The Night Shift” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) was able to rise 0.2 above its season low of last week. It had lighter scripted drama competition this week, with ABC’s “Castle” in repeats and basketball instead of “NCIS: Los Angeles” on CBS.

At CW, “The Originals” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.1 million viewers overall) and “Jane the Virgin” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 0.9 million viewers overall) were back in originals and both matched their lowest demo scores to date. And Fox’s “The Following” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.9 million viewers overall) hit its low opposite the game as well.

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