March Madness Ratings Roundup: CBS, Turner Pulling in Best Overnights in a Quarter Century

March Madness continued to smash ratings records for CBS and Turner Sports over the weekend and, overall, the tournament has delivered the best average overnight rating in 25 years (since the current television format began in 1991). Through the Elite Eight, the NCAA Tournamen on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV is averaging a 7.2/15 overnight rating/share, up 11% through the same period last year, based on Nielsen metered market ratings.

Kentucky-Notre Dame Headlines Elite Eight
Overall, this year’s Elite Eight coverage – on TBS and CBS – has averaged an 8.0/16, up 23% over last year (6.5/13) and is the highest average rating for the Regional Finals in 10 years (8.7/18 in 2005).

Sunday’s Elite Eight doubleheader on CBS averaged an 8.6/18 overnight rating/share, a 10% increase over last year.  The Louisville vs. Michigan State broadcast averaged a 7.6/17 to deliver the highest rating in the game window in 22 years (8.1/21 in 1993) and up 17% from last year.  In the second game, Duke vs. Gonzaga averaged a 9.9/20 to tie 2010 as the highest rating in the game window in 10 years (10.8/22; 2005), and up 10% over last year.  The Duke vs. Gonzaga broadcast peaked with a 12.8/23 rating from 7:00-7:15 PM, ET.

Saturday’s Kentucky vs Notre Dame game on TBS averaged an 8.4/16 U.S. HH rating/share and 14.7 million total viewers to deliver the highest-rated and most-viewed program in the network’s history.  The Kentucky/Notre Dame telecast — peaking with an 11.1/20 U.S. HH rating/share and 19.7 million total viewers from 10:45-11 p.m. ET — is also the highest-rated and most-viewed college basketball game ever on cable television. Coverage of Saturday’s games – Wisconsin/Arizona and Kentucky/Notre Dame – delivered the highest average viewership and rating for the Saturday Regional Finals in 10 years (since 2005).  Saturday’s game coverage averaged 11.7 million viewers, up 34% from 2014, and a 6.8/13 rating/share, up 33% from last year.

Record Thursday for Sweet 16
On March 26, the first day of the Sweet 16 generated the highest rating ever for the Sweet 16 Thursday of the NCAA Tournament (since the tournament began its current television format in 1991). Thursday’s games averaged a 9.1/16 overnight rating/share, up 30% compared to a 7.0/13 in 2014, based on Nielsen metered market ratings.

Thursday’s coverage also generated record ratings in both telecast windows.  TBS and CBS averaged a 9.3/17 overnight rating/share from 7-10 p.m. ET, the highest rating for the game window since 1991 and a 39% increase over last year.  From 9:45 p.m.-12:45 a.m., the networks averaged an 8.9/16 overnight rating/share, tied with 1992 and 1993 as the highest rating for the game window since 1991 and a 20% increase compared to 2014.

Beyond the Big Screen: March Madness Live Scores Big Audience
Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live has set an all-time record with more than 71 million live video streams through the Elite Eight, surpassing last year’s total of 69.7 million live video streams for the entire tournament.  This year’s live video streams are up 13% over last year.  NCAA March Madness Live has also generated a record-setting 15.3 million hours of live video consumption, up 14% through Sunday.

Sunday’s Elite Eight coverage netted 3.6 million live video streams for a 32% increase over last year.  During Saturday’s Elite Eight coverage, NCAA March Madness Live delivered a record-setting 5.2 million live video streams and 1.2 million live hours, up 92% and 67%, respectively.

Last hursday’s Sweet 16 coverage led to a 59% increase among live video streams and a 53% spike in live hours of video consumption over the comparable period in 2014.

The NCAA Tournament has grossed a record 181 million total social impressions across Facebook and Twitter through the second Thursday for a 31% increase over 2014.