It was pretty obvious that the NCAA Tournament Selection Show had lost its way a bit over the past few years. To CBS’s credit, the 2019 version was much closer to what just about everyone wants from the show: bracket reveals as early as possible accompanied by some light analysis, with heavier analysis saved for the end of the hour.

That’s what we got last night. What we didn’t get: teams revealed in alphabetical order in holographic format first before shown in the brackets later, and we also didn’t get a two-hour drag on everyone’s time. It was a refreshing example of a network listening to what people actually wanted, and CBS was rewarded for it with the show’s highest rating since 2014 (it aired on TBS in 2018):

The 2019 NCAA MARCH MADNESS SELECTION SHOW on CBS, produced in partnership between CBS Sports and Turner Sports, earned a 4.0/9 rating/share, the highest in five years (4.2/8 in 2014).

The SELECTION SHOW peaked at a 4.3/9 from 6:30-6:45 PM, ET.

That’s a big jump up from a pretty miserable 1.6 overnight last year, even accounting for the move back to network television. Along with the tweaked format, CBS also benefited from the show’s lead-in, an entertaining Big Ten tournament championship game between Michigan and Michigan State.

The peak segment is interesting; that 6:30 to 6:45 stretch included the fourth region reveal (and also the final   two bubble teams), and given the unusually large number of teams who had bubble hopes heading into last night, it makes sense that many would hang on until the end.

The top metered markets suggest that as well:

1. Louisville 16.4/28
2. Columbus 11.8/21
3. Indianapolis 11.3/19
4. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem 10.3/18
T5. Kansas City 9.8/19
T5. Cincinnati 9.8/18

Ohio State, Indiana, and UNC-Greensboro were all on the bubble (Ohio State made it in). It’s obviously tough to isolate which factors helped the most, and in truth it was probably a combination of all of the above, and some others, as well. But the product was definitely better this year, and it’s nice to see the ratings reward that.

[CBS Sports]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.