The 2023 NCAA Tournament Selection Show started March Madness on a mostly positive note.
This year’s Selection Show averaged 5.086 million viewers on CBS, up 3% from last year’s broadcast.
CBS Sports and WBD Sports' presentation of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Show is the most-watched sports program of the week on any network with nearly 5.1 million viewers on CBS. pic.twitter.com/Z060MVknxE
— March Madness Men’s Basketball TV (@MM_MBB_TV) March 14, 2023
As usual, the Big Ten Tournament Championship was the lead-in to the Selection Show, and it actually provided less help this March than last March. Purdue’s win over Penn State averaged 3.177 million viewers this year. Last year, Iowa’s win over Purdue averaged 3.585 million viewers.
Viewership for the Selection Show declined each year from 2014 to 2018. bottoming out with 2.497 million viewers in 2018 on TBS. In 2017, the Selection Show’s audience of 4.883 million was its lowest ever on CBS. 2016 through 2018 were the dark “expanded” years, featuring longer shows and nonsensical bracket reveals. A return to the tried and true format in 2019 was met by a massive viewership increase, though it slid in both 2021 and 2022 before slightly increasing this year.
Ultimately, I feel like the Selection Show is a hard property to screw up and, barring unnecessary tweaks, its viewership will fall in the same general range depending on the Big Ten Tournament Championship lead-in.