The first NCAA tournament games in nearly two years drew a sizably bigger audience than their counterparts from 2019. ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19, meanwhile, topped Thursday’s primetime ratings on the broadcast networks.
The “First Four” games on TruTV and TBS averaged about 1.94 million viewers, a 44 percent jump over the 1.35 million average for the four opening games (played over two nights) of the last tournament in 2019. The fact that two of them aired on TBS, which has a bigger reach than TruTV, likely helped, as did the presence of well-known programs UCLA and Michigan State in one of the opening games.
TBS’ telecast of the UCLA-Michigan State contest was by far the most watched of the four with 3.15 million viewers. TBS’ other game (Drake vs. Wichita State) drew just above 2 million viewers, while the two contests on TruTV (Appalachian State-Norfolk State and Texas Southern-Mount St. Mary’s) averaged 1.3 million.
The full first round of the tournament began Friday, with CBS and TNT joining TBS and TruTV in airing games.
Elsewhere on cable, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight led primetime in total viewers with 3.18 million, just ahead of the UCLA-Michigan State game (the latter a substantial lead among adults 18-49 and 25-54).
On the broadcast networks, Grey’s Anatomy had the top 18-49 mark with a 0.97 rating (along with 4.97 million total viewers) while Station 19 had the largest total audience with 5.1 million (and a 0.79 in the 18-49 demo). A Million Little Things (0.48, 3.01 million viewers) ticked up from a week ago.
The two-episode season finale of The Unicorn on CBS averaged a 0.41 in adults 18-49 and 3.31 million viewers, a little below its season numbers. Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen had a season high in adults 18-49 a 0.83, and Call Me Kat (0.59) and Last Man Standing (0.47) also improved.
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.