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.

More TV

  • Maya Hawke'Once Upon a Time in

    Maya Hawke Reflects on Robin's 'Stranger Things' Coming Out Story

    Robin Buckley shocked viewers everywhere when she came out as a lesbian to Steve Harrington on the floor of a bathroom stall, but actress Maya Hawke says the twist wasn’t always set in stone. Hawke tells Variety that it wasn’t until episode four or five that she and the Duffer Brothers came to a final decision [...]

  • Love Island - Pictured: Kyra Green,

    TV Ratings: Is 'Love Island' Deserted?

    Two weeks have passed on “Love Island” and plenty of singles have coupled and uncoupled in their bid for love and a fat $100,000 pay check. However, there’s one couple that doesn’t seem to be hitting it off: CBS and “Love Island.” Ratings for the show have been far from paradisiacal, and with the network [...]

  • Jenny Wall Eryk Casemiro Nickelodeon

    Jenny Wall Named Nickelodeon CMO, Eryk Casemiro Named Senior VP of Nickelodeon Preschool

    Nickelodeon has hired two new executives, tapping Jenny Wall to become chief marketing officer and Eryk Casemiro to become senior vice president of Nickelodeon Preschool. Most recently CMO at Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, Wall will be responsible for all on- and off-air consumer marketing, brand creative and content launches across all of Nickelodeon’s platforms, including Nicktoons, [...]

  • Liz Garbus on Why We May

    Liz Garbus on Why The World May Never Know 'Who Killed Garrett Phillips'

    By the time Liz Garbus’s two-part documentary “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” debuts on HBO, there could be a new public lead in the case of the murdered titular 12-year-old. As least, that’s what many may hope after the new St. Lawrence County district attorney admitted a new tip earlier this spring. Garbus says she would [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content