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NCAA Championship Game Viewership Drops 28% From 2017

The NCAA mens’ basketball championship game between Michigan and Villanova saw significant declines in the ratings compared to last year.

Airing on TBS, TNT, and truTV, the game averaged 16.5 million viewers, down approximately 28% from 2017’s 23 million when the game aired on CBS. In addition, this year’s game pulled in a 10.3 rating in Nielsen metered market households, the lowest such rating ever recorded for a college basketball national championship game.

Such viewership declines are not uncommon as the championship game alternates between broadcast and cable. 2017’s viewership was up 29% compared to the 17.8 million who watched on the Turner networks in 2016. 2016’s game was itself down 37% from the 2015 game on CBS, which drew an 18-year high 28.3 million viewers. In terms of household ratings, this year’s game was down approximately 29% from the 14.5 rating in 2017. 2016 saw a 12.0 household rating for the game on cable. This year’s game also likely suffered due to its one-sided nature, with Villanova dominating Michigan with a 79-62 victory.

Despite the declines, this year’s game was easily the most-watched telecast of the night, with the closest competition on broadcast being NBC’s “The Voice” with 9.9 million viewers. Fox aired no original programming against the championship game, while CBS aired only one: the freshman sitcom “Living Biblically” at 9:30 p.m. The nearest competition on cable was the first hour of WWE’s “Monday Night Raw,” which averaged 3.4 million viewers in the hour.

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