CBS and Turner cable networks collectively tout the best March Madness TV viewing in 20 years for the first days of the basketball tournament.
Average TV ratings for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament were 9% higher than a year ago for the first week (Tuesday, March 19 through Sunday, March 24) -- a Nielsen preliminary 8.9 million viewers up from 8.2 average viewers a year ago.
Looking at viewing on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV, the companies say it was the most-viewed first week since 1993, and that Sunday coverage of games -- typically a big viewing day for the first week of the tournament -- was up nearly 30% to 11.1 million viewers. All that made it the most-watched Sunday in 15 years.
Breaking down Sunday's third round coverage, the first daytime telecast 12 p.m. to 2:41 p.m. (EST) was up nearly 40% over a year ago to a 5.0 household rating/12 share. The second daytime window (2:57 p.m. to 5:18 p.m.) was up 26% to a 6.8/14; the first prime-time telecast (5:18 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.) grew 31% to a 10.9/20; and the second prime-time telecast 8:01 p.m. to 12:12 a.m. was up 4% to 5.9/10.
CBS and Turner also said social media activity more than doubled versus a year ago -- up 154% to 6.3 million comments, according to Bluefin.