TV Ratings: NCAA Men's Championship Sets Post-COVID High for Basketball

Baylor v Gonzaga
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The championship game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament was down a fair amount from the last title game in 2019. But CBS' broadcast of the event offered some hopeful signs amid a fairly bleak recent TV sports landscape.

Baylor's dominant 86-70 victory over Gonzaga in Monday's title game averaged 16.92 million viewers for CBS, down about 14 percent from the 19.63 million who watched the 2019 final (last year's tournament was canceled). The game scored a 4.12 rating among adults 18-49.

The tournament as a whole was off by 13 percent vs. two years ago, averaging 3.82 million viewers for 66 games across CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV.

On the upside, Monday's telecast was the most watched basketball game, college or professional, since the the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — since the deciding game of the 2019 NBA Finals (18.34 million viewers on ABC), in fact. The declines for March Madness are also much smaller than those of the 2020 NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup Finals, World Series and several other major events.

Elsewhere Monday, The Voice posted the best primetime numbers after the NCAA contest with a 0.83 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 6.02 million viewers. On cable, Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight was the most watched show with 3.14 million viewers, and WWE Monday Night Raw led the 18-49 demo with a 0.52 average over its three hours.

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