Villanova emerged victorious in the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Monday night, and celebrated its second championship in three years. But the ratings for the Nova-Michigan title game aren’t making anyone celebrate.
The numbers are in, and the game (which was broadcast on TNT, TBS, and TruTV) pulled a 10.3 overnight rating. That’s a 29% drop from 2017’s UNC-Gonzaga championship game, which was broadcast on CBS, and a 14% drop from 2016’s Villanova-UNC title match-up, which like 2018’s was broadcast on the Turner suite of networks.
If those drops seem big, that’s because they are. The ratings for Monday night’s game were the lowest of any NCAA men’s basketball championship game ever.
As always with ratings that are lower than expected, there’s no one reason. Villanova, while winning the championship in 2016 as well as on Monday night, doesn’t have the same college basketball name recognition like Duke or UNC. And the game itself was a little anti-climactic. Nova and Michigan were close for awhile, but once Villanova pulled away, there was no looking back. That’s exciting for Villanova fans, but less exciting for people who wanted a closely contested game (and also for Michigan fans). Blowouts just aren’t fun to watch.
There are also logistical issues at play. The game started at 9:20pm on the East Coast, which was pretty late, and not a great way to get more people watching. Plus, just like 2016, the title game was not on CBS but on cable. The game was on TBS/TNT/TruTV, and that immediately makes it harder for people to watch.
The ratings for the national title game may have reached an all-time low, but they still won the night overall. Nothing else on Monday night TV pulled as many eyeballs, and that included a brand new episode of “American Idol.” That’s definitely a win, especially in this era of fragmented TV watching.
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