NCAA tournament gets 10 percent boost in ratings, most-watched in 24 years

Kevin Kaduk
The Dagger

The first round belonged to chalk, not Cinderella, but viewers still came out in droves for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

CBS and Turner Sports announced on Monday that their weekend coverage of the games was generating the best numbers in 24 years. The networks said that live game coverage across four networks — CBS, TBS, TNT and true TV — averaged 9.325 million viewers, a 10 percent boost from 2016. Sunday coverage averaged 11.9 million viewers, a 34-percent boost.

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The networks said an additional 69.1 million streams were served digitally, an all-time record.

A number of factors could have contributed to the increase, including a big winter storm on the East Coast that kept many people home and watching TV when they weren’t shoveling. A number of big-name programs also held top seeds, perhaps suggesting that people don’t value the upsets as much as they say they do.

It’ll be interesting to see if the ratings hold. With a Sweet 16 that’s heavy on name-brand schools (though no Duke), CBS and Turner are certainly in a position to continue their momentum.


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