With four overtime games and three lower seed upsets of higher seeds, Thursday’s action in the NCAA Tournament could not have been more exciting. And thanks to the close games particularly in the early evening window, CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV saw the best ratings in that particular timeslot since 1991 when the NCAA Tournament went to four separate windows.

For the entire day, CBS/Turner averaged a 6.0 overnight rating with a 14 share. That’s the highest number for the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament in 23 years. That’s a 3% increase from last year’s 5.8/14.  It also averaged 8.6 million total viewers, up 6% versus last year.

Three of the four broadcast windows saw increased ratings, in particular, the first primetime window from 6:45 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET. That timeslot delivered the highest numbers not just for the night, but also since 1991, with a 7.7/15 and 11.4 million viewers. That’s the period where three of the four games went to overtime.

The other windows resulted as follows:

1st daytime window: 4.6/15, 6.3 million viewers
2nd daytime window: 5.4/14, 7.6 million viewers
Late primetime window: 6.2/12 overnight rating, 8.7 million viewers

For the first three days of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, CBS/Turner is averaging a 5.6 rating with a 12 share. Compared to last year, that’s up 8% as compared to last year’s 5.2/12.

As long as the games are compelling, the ratings will be good. The CBS/Turner consortium has to be encouraged thus far through the first days of March Madness.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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