This year's NCAA Tournament continues to draw high ratings for CBS and Turner Sports.  Through the Elite 8, the average national rating for the tourney is a 6.2, up 9% from last year's 5.6 rating.  Even more impressively, yesterday's numbers for lopsided games between Michigan and Florida and Louisville and Duke were up huge compared to last year, even with the Easter Sunday holiday.  

Furthermore, total viewership numbers continue to make this year's tournament the most watched in decades.  Through the Elite 8, average viewership is 9.7 million, which makes it the highest since 1994.  Here's details from Turner…

"CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive coverage of the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is averaging 9,701,000 total viewers-to-date, up 11% from last year’s 8,717,000 viewers, and is the highest average for the NCAA Tournament through the Sunday Regional Finals in 19 years (9,728,000; 1994).

The 2013 NCAA Tournament to date is averaging a national HH rating/share of 6.2/13, up 9% from last year’s 5.7/12, and is the highest rating to date since a 6.3/14 in 2005.

Sunday’s Regional Final coverage on CBS averaged 12,819,000 total viewers, based on Nielsen Fast Nationals, up 31% from last year’s 9,795,000 viewers.

Regional Final coverage on Sunday earned a HH rating/share of a 7.4/17, up 25% from last year’s 5.9/12.

The first broadcast window (2:19-4:28 PM, ET), in which Michigan topped Florida, earned a 5.7/15, up 14% from a 5.0/11 in 2012. The second broadcast window (4:55-7:34 PM, ET) which featured Louisville beating Duke, registered an 8.8/19, up 24% from a 7.1/14 in 2012."

The big test in the ratings department will be the Final 4.  So often in the NCAA Tournament, the first 2 weekends are great and the Final 4 becomes a letdown with blowouts and a lack of suspense.  Despite being 4 seeds, Michigan and Syracuse are big enough brand names to draw an audience, as proven by them being given the nightcap.  The Wichita State-Louisville number will be more intriguing.  We all love Cinderella, but the Shockers have been the most non-descript of the so-called mid-majors to make it to this stage.  They don't have the surprise element of George Mason or VCU nor the charm or exposure of Butler.  What's more, Louisville will probably have more support around the country with the Kevin Ware story.  The storylines will certainly be there and CBS will be hoping that viewers continue to come along for the ride.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.