TV Ratings: NCAA Championship Game Takes a Hit in TBS Move, Pulls 17.8 Million Viewers

The game's audience drops nearly 10 million viewers from the 18-year highs CBS hit in 2015.
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Even a nail-biter of a game couldn't help Monday's NCAA men's college basketball championship, the crescendo of March Madness, from succumbing to the natural dips of its broadcast-to-cable move.

Villanova’s 77-74 buzzer-beater victory over North Carolina averaged 17.8 million viewers across TBS, TNT and TruTV. A drop seemed inevitable regardless of the outlet. The 2015 championship game, which had the wider reach of CBS, capped off a record-breaking tournament with an 18-year high of 28.3 million viewers.

Monday's game peaked at the tail-end, between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m. ET, with 22.3 million viewers.

All in all, it ranks as the No. 2 college basketball game to ever air on cable. But that nearly 10 million viewer drop is an awfully steep one. The coverage was a first for Turner Sports, which owns TBS, TNT and Tru. Per a 2010 agreement with CBS Sports, Turner Sports and the NCAA, this year marked the first time that the final three games of the tournament aired on cable.