Ratings Roundup: CBS Delivers Largest Final Four Audience Since 2005

Despite featuring four teams with the lowest combined seeds in NCAA tournament history, CBS Sports’ coverage of the Final Four on Saturday drew in the largest audience since 2005. The Butler-VCU and Connecticut-Kentucky matchups on CBS were watched by 15.4 million viewers and earned an 8.9/17 rating/share, according to Nielsen fast nationals. That is the most viewers since 2005 (16.6 million for Illinois-Louisville and North Carolina-Michigan State) and ties 2010 as the highest-rated Final Four since 2005.

The first game, Butler beating VCU, earned an average household rating/share of 8.3/17. The game averaged 14.2 million viewers, which was the second-highest viewer average for the first Final Four game since 2006 (14.5 million, Florida-George Mason). The second game, featuring Connecticut’s victory over Kentucky, delivered a 9.5/17, the best rating in the window since a 10.9/19 in 2005 (North Carolina-Michigan State). The game averaged 16.7 million viewers, which was the highest viewer average for the second Final Four game since 2005 (17.5 million, North Carolina-Michigan State).

Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ coverage of the tournament across CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV has delivered the best overall tournament-to-date ratings since 2005. The overall tournament average-to-date rating/share, including the First Four, is a 6.2/13, up 9% from last year’s 5.7/13. The 6.2/13 is the highest average rating for the NCAA Tournament through the Final Four since a 6.6/14 in 2005. The overall tournament averaged 9.9 million total viewers, up 10% from 9.0 million total viewers for CBS Sports’ 2010 coverage. This is the highest viewer average at this point in the tournament since 10.2 million in 2005…

…Thursday’s Opening Day game was the highest-rated Kansas City Royals season- or home-opener broadcast on Fox Sports Kansas City. The Los Angeles Angels-Royals telecast generated a 5.4 household rating in the Kansas City market. The previous high rating for a Royals opener was last year’s 5.3 for the Royals’ April 5 loss to the Detroit Tigers…

…NBA games on TNT Thursday night outdrew Major League Baseball’s Opening Night game. TNT earned a 1.7 U.S. rating and 2.767 million viewers for the Boston Celtics’ win over the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night, outdrawing ESPN’s San Francisco Giants/Los Angeles Dodgers MLB Opening Night game head-to-head (1.5, 2.325 million). Thursday’s MLB Opening Night game was tied as the lowest-rated since 2002, down 25% in ratings and 28% in viewership from last year’s Opening Night game, which aired on a Sunday (New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox: 2.0, 3.234 million, ESPN2). Thursday’s game is tied as the lowest-rated Opening Night game on ESPN or ESPN2 since Indians-Angels exactly nine years earlier (1.1, ESPN2).