March Madness: Tourney Nets Most-Viewed First Friday In 23 Years

TBS, CBS, TNT, truTV Net 8.4 Million Watchers, 4% More Than in 2013 3/22/2014 5:45 PM Eastern


With the upsets continuing to mount, CBS Sports and Turner Sports scored with their presentations of second-round coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, netting the tourney’s  most-viewed opening Friday in 23 years.

TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 5.7 rating and 8.4 million viewers on Friday, March 21, up 4% from 8.1 million viewers on the comparable day during the 2013 event, according to Nielsen fast nationals data. March Madness fans were drawn by Mercer’s upset of Duke and Stephen F. Austin’s improbable comeback versus VCU.

Through its first four days, the 2014 tourney averaged 8.2 million total viewers, 6% more than last year’s 7.7 million total viewers. The delivery marks the most-viewed start to the tournament since 1991, when the event expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day.  From March 18-21, the tournament scored a 5.5 rating.

Friday's first daytime telecast window averaged 5.8 million total viewers, the second-highest viewership for the window since 1991, while the second daytime window averaged 7.7 million total viewers, the largest audience since 1991. The latter grew 10% compared to an average of 7.0 million total viewers last year.

In the first primetime telecast window, the tourney averaged 10.2 million total viewers, its second-best performance in 21 years , and 9% greater than last years’s  9.4 million.

The second primetime telecast window averaged 10.2 million total viewers to register the highest viewership in that period in 23 years. The window was up 4% from the 9.8 million viewers a year ago.

Collectively, the second-round coverage on Thursday and Friday, March 20-21, averaged 8.5 million total viewers, making it the most-viewed second round in 23 years and a 5% improvement over 2013’s 8.1 million total viewers. Over  the two days, the four networks averaged a 5.7 U.S. rating, up 4% from last year’s 5.5.