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


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)