NCAA final sees ratings bounce

Florida-Ohio St. up 9% from last year's title game

The NCAA men's basketball championship gave CBS the win Monday in adults 18-49, while "Dancing With the Stars" and a revitalized "The Bachelor" led ABC to victory in viewership.

CBS got better ratings than last year for the Florida-Ohio State game, which averaged 19.6 million viewers and a 7.2 rating/19 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, Nielsen Media Research said.

It was up 9% compared with last year but remained one of the lowest-rated NCAA men's basketball championship telecasts in recent memory. But CBS remained on top for the night in adults 18-49 and came close to tying ABC in viewership with basketball from 9-11:34 p.m. EDT.

But "Dancing" (18.2 million, 4.8/13) demonstrated major court strength in its 105-minute episode that stretched into the first half-hour of CBS' basketball telecast. And when "Dancing" passed the ball off to "The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman" (9.8 million, 3.7/9), it gave the show its biggest premiere since April 7, 2004. It also was 19% more than fall's "The Bachelor: Rome" adults 18-49 rating.

The NCAA championship game was down 19% from the North Carolina-Illinois telecast in 2005, which was a high-water mark in recent years. It was, however, up significantly in key male demos, including the younger demos, from last year's game.

This year's March Madness, however, was the lowest-rated since the 2003 tournament, which took place during the begin\ning of the Iraq War.

Beyond "Dancing" and "Bachelor," it was hardly a night where the other networks rolled over. The season finale of "Prison Break" (8.1 million, 3.4/10) was in line with last week's episode, while "24" (10.9 million, 4.4/11) was down compared with last week's 11.8 million, 4.7/11. NBC had two hours of "Deal or No Deal" (11.4 million, 3.2/9 for the first hour, which was new) before crashing with "The Black Donnellys" (5.3 million, 2.0/5), which had the misfortune of running up against basketball and "Bachelor."
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