Despite a lack of teams from power conferences, the First Four games on truTV this year were up 12% in ratings from 2012. This year, the four games combined for a 2.9 rating, compared to a 2.6 in 2012.
Perhaps even more impressive is the competition that the First Four games had to go up against. On Tuesday, Kentucky's loss in the NIT to Robert Morris pulled a 1.2 overnight and 1.599 million viewers, while the First Four averaged 1.112 million viewers for both games, up 7%. Wednesday's games averaged 1.180 million viewers.
But while the ratings were up this year, three of the four timeslots were down compared to 2011, when the First Four format came into being. I'm not really sure what conclusions we can make about the First Four's success in just a three year sample aside from "Americans love the NCAA Tournament," but not as much as they love a storied program like the John Calipari's Wildcats.