NCAA TV Coverage Scores Gains For CBS

Though CBS network viewership might be down for the NCAA Tournament, overall TV coverage of all national TV networks has posted viewership gains versus as year ago -- and highest overall since the tournament has gone to a four network window in 1991.

Four TV networks -- CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV -- combined household ratings on Thursday, March 20, the first day of the tournament, averaged a Nielsen 6.0 rating/14 share -- up 3% from the 5.8/14 results from the first day of the March Madness tournament a year ago.

CBS says the overall tournament average rating, including the NCAA First Four games, is at 5.6/12, up 8% from a 5.2/12 last year, and is also the highest rating for the tournament at this point in the event since 1991.

CBS says viewership was the highest its been in all dayparts --- daytime, late afternoon, early and late evening. The 12:00 noon to 4:45 p.m ET averaged a 4.6/15 up 12% compared with a 4.1/14 last year. The 2:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m window was at  5.4/14 to garner the second-highest rating for the time slot since 1991.

Both prime-time periods grew as well: The 6:45 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. window at a 7.7/15 to register up 4% over a 7.4/14 in 2013; with the second prime-time window, 9:30 p.m. to 1:45 a.m. at a 6.2/12.

For its parts on the CBS network, the first game between 8 and 9:17 p.m, -- Wofford/Michigan -- earned a Nielsen 1.0/4 and 3.8 million overall viewers. The second game Arizona State-Texas, 9:18 p.m. -- 12:04 a.m. -- earned a 1.3/4 and 3.7 million viewers.

Nielsen preliminary results showed CBS network ratings down by about a third in its prime-time coverage versus the same night a year ago.

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