March Madness: Ratings Sweetest In 17 Years With Round Of 16 Coverage

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TBS and CBS combined to average more than 12 million viewers for their coverage of the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.
Continuing their Nielsen strength with the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, the networks aggregated a 7.6 U.S. household rating and 14 share with their March 24 telecasts, the highest rating for the Thursday regional semifinals since an 8.2 rating/16 share in 1994, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals data.
Coverage of the regional semifinals on CBS -- Kemba Walker's UConn over San Diego State and Arizona's blowout of top West seed Duke -- and TBS -- Florida chomping on the Jimmer Fredette-led BYU and Butler holding off Wisconsin -- was 15% ahead of CBS's 2010 coverage, which netted a 6.6 rating/12 share. The networks' 12 million viewers were14% more than CBS's 10.5 million total viewers a year ago.

The first telecast window on March 24 yielded a combined 7.4 rating/14 share, a 23% jump from last year's 6.0/11.

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The second window notched a 7.8/15 share, 10% more than 2010's 7.1/13.
Through March 24, Turner and CBS teamed to deliver, including the First Four action, 8.8 million watchers on average, the most since 1994, and 13% more than CBS's 7.8 million total viewers in 2010. The networks have scored a 5.7 rating/13 share, a 14% increase over the 5.0/11 on CBS during last year's version of March Madness.
On the demo watch, the overall tournament average-to-date is up by double-digit in these key adult and male demos over 2010, including:

A18-34 +36% (2,308 vs. 1,698)
A18-49 +17% (4,182 vs. 3,584)
A25-54 +13% (4,290 vs. 3,792)
M18-34 +38% (1,563 vs. 1,129)
M18-49 +21% (2,957 vs. 2,441)
M25-54 +19% (3,058 vs. 2,573)

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