NCAA overnight comes in at a 12.1, which is down 9% from last year. Game was never really close, which hurt. Did the 9:30 start also hurt?
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) April 3, 2012
Marquee programs can only do so much in a game that isn’t close. In a bit of a surprise, the overnight ratings for last night’s NCAA title game were down 9% from last year according to SBJ’s John Ourand. That’s not good news for the NCAA, who saw ratings dip 18% from 2010 to 2011. Last year featured Connecticut defeating Butler in a low, low, low scoring game that was difficult to watch at times.
However, in better news for the NCAA, the national rating was slightly up from last year according to SBJ’s Austin Karp and one of the best numbers in the last seven years…
UK-Kansas on CBS actually up in the fast nationals….12.3 vs 11.7 last year….second best championship since 2005
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) April 3, 2012
Well, those numbers can be spun in any possible direction, can’t they? You’d have to think the ratings would have been much better had the game been close. The Jayhawks were never closer than 6 points in the last 30 minutes of the game and most of the game saw Kentucky lead by 10+ points.
What Ourand points to may be a factor in low overnights, and national numbers that could have been higher – the incredibly late start time. Why on God’s green earth does the national championship game of college basketball need to start at 9:30 ET? Why does CBS have to go off the air after midnight? It makes no sense. Does America really need to suffer through the pure hell that is another episode of Two And A Half Men before enjoying basketball? Everybody loves to give Major League Baseball grief for their late start times, but what happens with the NCAA title game on a Monday night is just as bad… if not worse. Last night at halftime with UK leading by 14, many viewers likely knew Kansas had no chance in the second half and just went to sleep.
Ourand also reports overall ratings were down 8% for the entire tournament. More and more, college basketball is becoming a one month rental with March Madness. With no buzzer beaters, a couple memorable upsets, no Gus Johnson, and an anti-climactic ending with Kentucky never really being challenged, the 2012 tourney lacked the drama we’ve come to expect from March Madness.