March Madness Ratings Pacing at 24-Year High

Viewership for the 2017 NCAA basketball tournament climbed on Sunday, as overall consumption is up 10 percent from the previous year.
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March Madness has not come quietly.

The NCAA basketball tournament is scoring massive highs for the four participating networks, with viewership up 10 percent through the first Sunday for an average 9.33 million viewers — a 24-year high.

On Sunday alone, coverage on CBS and Turner cable trio TBS, TNT and TruTV averaged 11.9 million viewers. That's up 34 percent from the comparable 2016 games. Ratings only got better as the day went on; Duke's surprise loss to South Carolina was a particular highlight, with one primetime window fetching as many as 18.6 million viewers. That's the most-watched game for the comparable slot since 1991, when the tournament expanded to its present TV format.

And all of that is just based on live-plus-same-day linear viewing. On digital platform March Madness Live, an all-time record 69.1 million streams have been generated through the first Sunday. That's a 24 percent boost from the year before. The Notre Dame-Princeton matchup have thus far scored the biggest streaming haul with 5.4 million digital views.

All of this news bodes particularly well for the four networks, since March Madness doesn't conclude until the championship game on April 3.