The NCAA men’s basketball title game traditionally has been held on a viewer-unfriendly Monday night — and in a couple of years fans will need pay TV to watch it at home. CBS and TBS said today that the cable network will carry the semifinal Final Four games in 2014 and 2015, with CBS airing the championship game. But as the next presidential election begins to heat up in spring 2016, TBS will carry the NCAA Tournament semis and title game, marking the first college men’s hoops championship to air on cable. After that, the networks will alternate showing the March Madness semifinals and final as a package every year through 2024. CBS and Turner Networks inked a 14-year deal with the NCAA in 2010 to offer the Final Four and championship games, and they announced then that the final eventually would be shown on cable, but they hadn’t said when that would take place until today.
TV Weekly Warfare: NCAA, Academy Of Country Music Awards & ‘Big Bang’ Keep CBS On Top; NBC Maintains ‘Voice’ Boost
Let’s just cut to the chase: If you’re CBS, spring is looking like the best season so far this broadcast year, and if you’re NBC it looks like the ratings fire of The Voice really is keeping you going after a dismal winter left you ice cold. For a third week in a row, CBS has won the week in viewership and adults 18-49. It was the most watched frame for the network since the week the Grammys aired in February. With a 2.7/8 for Week 28 of the 2012-2013 season, the network was not just up from the 2.3/7 of the week before but also up 8% from the comparable week a year ago. In terms of viewership, the network pulled in an average of 11.256 million viewers, compared to 9.018 million for the week starting March 25, 2013.
CBS’ surge came in no small part due to strong and steady promotion of Sunday’s highly rated 48th annual Academy Of Country Music Awards leading into this past week and throughout the frame itself, plus solid numbers for the NCAA Tournament‘s Final Four round Saturday. The 9:11-11:38 PM game was the highest-rated show of the week with a 5.7 and the second-most-watched show of the week with 17.104 million viewers. Back after three weeks due in part to NCAA games, a new The Big Bang Theory on April 4 was the second-highest-rated show of the week with a 5.2 and the most watched show with viewership of 17.242 million. Beating ABC’s Country Music Awards for the first time ever, the third-most-watched show of last week was the ACM Awards. The country music show pulled in 15.505 million viewers Sunday for its best audience result since 1998, and jumping 39% among adults 18-49 from last year for its best result since 2001. The awards show proved the sixth-highest-rated show of the week with a 4.3 rating — behind the April 1 (4.7) and April 2 (4.5) airings of NBC’s The Voice. In that sense, it was a good week for Blake Shelton, who co-hosted the ACM Awards and is a judge on the NBC competition show.
UPDATE, 10:55 AM: With 10.7 million viewers on average, this year’s NCAA Tournament is the most watched since 1994, when it pulled in 11.2 million. The games on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV this year were up 11% from the average 2012 audience of 9.6 million, according to Nielsen. Monday’s national championship game on CBS pitting Louisville against Michigan rose 12% in viewership to an average of 23.4 million, up from from 2012′s 20.9 million.
PREVIOUSLY, 8:02 AM: CBS scored last night with the NCAA Tournament championship game. The primetime matchup between victorious Louisville and Michigan pulled in an average overnight household rating/share of 14.23, according to Nielsen. That’s up 18% over the 12.1/19 last year’s game between Kentucky and Kansas. The ratings for Monday’s title game hit a peak from 11:30-11:45 PM ET with a 17.3/32 rating. Overall, CBS and Turner Sports’ multi-channel broadcasts of this year’s tournament drew a 7.2/19 average-to-date rating in metered markets. That’s up 9% from last year’s tournament and tied with 2011’s rating for the highest numbers since 2005 (7.3/14).