Final Four Posts Best TV Ratings in Six Years

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People said this tournament final would put up bad television numbers because it was the first to feature two mid-major programs. Media experts said those small schools, and the fact that no true big markets are prominently featured among the final four universities would be ratings death.

They were wrong.

CBS coverage of this Final Four on Saturday, April 2 earned an average national household rating/share of 8.9/17, which ties with 2010 as the highest rated Final Four since 2005.


The 2011 Final Four averaged 15.4 million viewers, which was the highest for the two Final Four games since 2005 (16.6 million; Illinois-Louisville and North Carolina-Michigan State). Obviously, ’05 was by far my favorite final four of my lifetime, as my alma mater, the Fighting Illini played in the matinee, with the my MBA school the Spartans following in the headliner. But ’05 was a unique Final Four, in that the two best teams actually both advanced to the title game. I can’t recall another instance in my lifetime that featured the #1 overall seed taking on the overall #2.

The first game Saturday night, the Butler Bulldogs 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. This 9.5/17 is 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).

The overall tournament is averaging 9.9 million total viewers, +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.

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