The early rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament have put up solid ratings figures, largely keeping pace with the comparable week of March Madness in 2019.
From Thursday to Sunday, coverage of the tournament on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV averaged 8.5 million viewers, down a modest 3 percent from the “First Four” opening games and first two rounds of the main bracket in 2019. That’s despite TV usage being down 18 percent compared to the early rounds in 2019. This year’s games are up by 3 percent over 2018.
Monday evening’s games, which averaged about 5 million viewers on CBS a little under 1.8 million on both TBS and TNT, are in line with those averages as well.
That’s good news for CBS and Turner Sports, as ratings for other big sporting events have trended much lower in the pandemic year compared to the recent past. (CBS’ Super Bowl telecast, for instance, fell 8 percent in TV-only viewing vs. 2020, and baseball’s World Series, the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Finals all slumped by 30 percent or more.
Elsewhere in primetime Monday, NBC’s The Voice was the most watched show with 7.06 million viewers, easily topping the Monday debut for American Idol (4.94 million) on ABC. The Voice also led all non-sports programming in adults 18-49 with a 0.91 rating, topping Idol‘s 0.74. Week two of America’s Most Wanted on Fox ticked up in the 18-49 demo to 0.42 but came down a little in total viewers to 2.01 million.
Tucker Carlson Tonight grabbed the biggest audience on cable in primetime; the Fox News show averaged 3.1 million viewers to beat MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (2.87 million).
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.