We all applauded CBS on Sunday for cutting its NCAA Tournament Selection Show from two hours to 90 minutes and releasing the bracket within the first half of the show. It seemed like basic common sense that viewers shouldn’t have to slog through such an unwieldy bracket reveal.
CBS’ reward for that customer service?
NCAA selection show averaged 4.883M (last year 5.246M).
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) March 16, 2017
That drop from 5.246 million viewers to 4.883 represents a hefty 7 percent decline, which we can safely attribute in part to the shorter show. Yes, you probably complained about the length of the show in 2016, but there’s a good chance you kept watching anyway.
According to Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp, this is the first time the selection show has ever dipped below 5 million viewers.
Better show at 90 minutes, but easily CBS' least-viewed men's Selection Show on record. First time under 5 million viewers. https://t.co/ECyC17LCnB
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) March 16, 2017
Everyone on Twitter liked this year's show better than last year's. Twitter is a bad gauge of TV popularity https://t.co/ShyNJwbykz
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) March 16, 2017
Then again, some of the ratings decline may have been backlash to the slog of the 2016 show. Some viewers might have been so bitter over how long last year’s reveal took that they didn’t both tuning in this year.
Besides, ratings are not the end-all for a television network. In 2016, the exhaustingly long show and the bracket leak that came with it were bad PR for CBS, and the network would probably prefer not to have everyone on social media carping about how annoying the program is. On the other hand… attracting viewers is kind of the whole point.
From a fan’s perspective, you hope CBS will suck up the low rating and keep the selection show at 90 minutes next year, even if that means dragging out the reveal a little more.
Still a much better show this year. Don't change, CBS. https://t.co/C12ZgvgTxo
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) March 16, 2017
Though we wouldn’t mind a return of Charles Barkley on the touchscreen.