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Weekly Ratings: College Basketball Dominates; Mixed Bag for Religious Programming

One week after AMC’s “The Walking Dead” ended its season, the Final Four college basketball contest between Wisconsin and undefeated Kentucky towered over all other programs in the weekly rankings.

The Badgers’ upset victory over the Wildcats on Saturday night averaged a big 5.8 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 16.8 million viewers on TBS. But if you include the simulcasts on both TNT and truTV, the Turner networks combined to do a 7.3/23 in the demo and drew 22.63 million viewers overall — the largest audience for the round in 23 years.

That made it especially dominant in a holiday frame that saw reduced ratings for several shows later in the week. CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” for example, returned Thursday after a two-week hiatus to easily its lowest scores of the season. It wasn’t alone, though, as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” also hit lows on the night.

Last week saw mixed results for religious-themed programming, with NBC faring well with its Easter Sunday series premiere of “A.D. The Bible Continues” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 9.68 million viewers overall). Though it couldn’t come close to Part 1 of the History network’s miniseries “The Bible” in 2013 (3.3 in 18-49, 13.1 million viewers overall), it was NBC’s top series premiere of the season in several categories. (It’s worth noting that “The Bible” had the advantage of premiering in early March and not on a holiday weekend, and then concluded on Easter.)

Not faring as well was CBS’ two-night movie premiere “The Dovekeepers” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 8.98 million viewers overall on Tuesday and 0.9/3 in 18-49, 6.35 million viewers on Wednesday). On average, its four hours rated more than 40% lower in 18-49 than the regularly scheduled crime series on the network the previous week (0.95 vs. 1.7).

ABC saw stronger than usual scores for its annual telecast of 1956 theatrical classic “The Ten Commandments” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 6.88 million viewers overall). The net has been airing the movie on the Saturday before Easter in recent years, but moved it to Sunday this year to blunt the premiere of NBC’s “A.D. The Bible Continues.”

At Fox News Channel, Friday’s telecast of “Killing Jesus” averaged 1.86 million viewers including 385,000 adults 25-54, making the network No. 1 among cable newsies on the night. It was up vs. FNC’s performance on Good Friday last year by 24% in total viewers and a big 84% in the demo. Five days earlier, the premiere telecast of “Killing Jesus” drew 3.7 million viewers for National Geographic Channel — an all-time high for the network.

Overall for the week of March 30-April 5, according to Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates, ABC prevailed in adults 18-49 by a narrow margin over NBC and CBS, with college basketball-boosted TBS and Univision rounding out the top five. ABC and CBS tied for the lead in adults 25-54 while the Eye easily won in total viewers.

The Alphabet had a good performance from its Wednesday comedy block, including rookie “Black-ish” (2.4/8 in 18-49, 7.43 million viewers overall), which logged its best scores of 2015. It retained a higher-than-usual 80% of its lead-in from “Modern Family” (3.0/10 in 18-49, 9.43 million viewers overall), which was the top show of the night in demos.

At Fox, the series premiere of comedy “Weird Loners” drew tiny ratings Tuesday (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.89 million viewers overall), though it had a modest lead-in from “New Girl,” which hit season lows (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.32 million viewers overall). NBC, by comparison, looked pretty good in the same hour with its recent comedy additions “Undateable” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.98 million viewers overall) and “One Big Happy” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.82 million viewers overall).

Despite getting a softer lead-in this week from “The Voice” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 8.57 million viewers overall for a recap episode) and facing all firstrun Fox comedy competition for the first time, “Undateable” stood as the night’s top-rated comedy. And “One Big Happy” held all of its demo rating from the previous week, holding a best-yet 86% of “Undateable.”

CBS was led by “The Big Bang Theory” (3.4/14 in 18-49, 13.89 million viewers overall), though it was down a full ratings point from its prior original, and “NCIS” (2.2/8 in 18-49, 16.60 million viewers overall), which was Tuesday’s No. 1 show in demos and stood as the week’s most-watched series overall.

Of note at CW was a good week 3 hold by Tuesday drama “iZombie” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.81 million viewers overall). Teaming with “The Flash” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.67 million viewers overall), the network tied Fox for the night in 18-49 and pulled ahead in 18-34.

Univision moved to second place (behind ABC) for the week in adults 18-34 thanks to a strong premiere week for “Amores con Trampa” (Fooled into Love), which averaged 717,000 viewers in the demo for its five episodes in the 8 o’clock hour. Overall, the novela averaged a 1.2 rating/4 share in adults 18-49 and 3 million total viewers overall.

Comedy Central’s “Roast of Justin Bieber” on Monday averaged a strong 2.6/9 in adults 18-49 (among primetime’s top 5 programs of the week) and 4.4 million viewers overall. This is the third largest audience among the network’s 14 such events over the years, behind only Charlie Sheen in 2011 (6.4 million) and Jeff Foxworthy in 2005 (6.0 million).

At Starz, “Outlander” returned from its midseason hiatus with a solid 1.22 million viewers — in line with its prior season average even though it went up against the big college basketball game. It was also more than double the series’ premiere average from last summer (721,000). Women comprised roughly 62% of the Saturday tune-in, and about 59% of the 2.4 million viewers who watched over the weekend.

AMC’s return of “Mad Men” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.27 million viewers overall) matched the show’s year-ago premiere score and figures to see especially large DVR playback due to the Easter holiday.


(Live plus same-day for March 30-April 5, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
ABC                    1.4/5
NBC                   1.3/4
CBS                    1.3/4
TBS                    1.2/4
UNI                    1.0/3
Fox                     0.9/3
TNT                   0.6/2
USA                   0.6/2
TEL                    0.6/2
CW                     0.5/2

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS                    8.09
ABC                   6.43
NBC                   5.80
TBS                    3.48
Fox                     3.16
UNI                    2.61
TNT                    1.73
USA                    1.70
FNC                   1.70
TEL                    1.45


(Live plus same-day for March 30-April 5, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
1.  College basketball, Saturday: Kentucky vs. Wisconsin (TBS), 5.8/19*
2.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 3.4/14
3.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 3.2/10
4.  Modern Family (ABC), 3.0/10
5.  Roast of Justin Bieber (Comedy), 2.6/9
6.  Black-ish (ABC), 2.4/8
7.  A.D. The Bible Continues (NBC), 2.3/7
8.  NCIS (CBS), 2.2/8
8.  Survivor (CBS), 2.2/8
10.  Scandal (ABC), 2.1/7
10.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 2.1/6
12.  Mom (CBS), 2.0/7
12.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 2.0/7
12.  The Goldbergs (ABC), 2.0/7
12.  Scorpion (CBS), 2.0/6
16.  The Odd Couple (CBS), 1.9/7
16.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 1.9/7
18.  The Middle (ABC), 1.8/7
18.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 1.8/6
18.  The Big Bang Theory, 9 p.m.-r (CBS), 1.8/6
18.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 1.8/6
18.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 1.8/6

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  College basketball, Saturday: Kentucky vs. Wisconsin (TBS), 16.80*
2.  NCIS (CBS), 16.60
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 13.89
4.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 13.76
5.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 11.86
6.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 10.70
7.  A.D. The Bible Continues (NBC), 9.68
8.  Survivor (CBS), 9.59
9.  Modern Family (ABC), 9.43
10.  Scorpion (CBS), 9.38
11.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 9.27
12.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 9.17
13.  The Dovekeepers: Part 1 (CBS), 8.98
14.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 8.87
15.  The Odd Couple (CBS), 8.70
16.  Mom (CBS), 8.62
17.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 8.57
18.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 8.48
19.  The Big Bang Theory, 9 p.m.-r (CBS), 8.34
20.  Castle (ABC), 8.16

*the game also aired on TNT and truTV, with the three-network cume totals hitting 7.3/23 in 18-49 and 22.63 million viewers overall



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