Thursday Final Nationals: Ratings Milestones for First Thursday of NCAA March Madness on CBS and Turner Sports

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With CBS televising their annual all-day coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, it was a mixed bag where all of the Big-4 networks owned some bragging rights on this date.

Fox won the night in total viewers (8.51 million) and adults 25-54 (2.5 rating/7 share) as the top 10 contestants performed on the once-mega-hit competition “American Idol” (Women 18-34: 1.7/6; Men 18-34: 0.8/4; Women 18-49: 2.3/7; Men 18-49: 1.3/5). Now that the first season of “Empire” has concluded, the show will move from Thursdays to the Wednesday 8-10 p.m. slot beginning March 25.

Despite overall declines from each of their respective season averages, ABC still proclaimed positives for its dramas, “Grey’s Anatomy” (Women 18-34: 2.6/10; Men 18-34: 0.6/3; Women 18-49: 3.1/10; Men 18-49: 1.0/4) and “Scandal” (Women 18-34: 2.7/9; Men 18-34: 0.6/3; Women 18-49: 3.6/10; Men 18-49: 1.1/4), as they were the top programs of the night among adults 18-49. And, “American Crime” (Women 18-34: 1.0/4; Men 18-34: 0.5/2; Women 18-49: 1.6/5; Men 18-49: 0.8/3) was the top scripted option in the 10 p.m. hour.

NBC’s “The Blacklist” (Women 18-34: 0.9/3; Men 18-34: 0.6/2; Women 18-49: 2.2/6; Men 18-49: 1.5/5) reached a six-week ratings high and had its closest adults 18-49 gap behind ABC’s “Scandal” this midseason.

With NCAA coverage, CBS won the night among adults 18-49 (2.0 rating/7 share) and adults 18-34 (1.7/7) with the overtime game of Cincinnati/Purdue in the early evening slot (Women 18-34: 0.8/4; Men 18-34: 1.7/9; Women 18-49: 1.1/4; Men 18-49: 2.1/9) and Kentucky extending their win streak to 35 in a blowout victory over 16th-seed Hampton in the nightcap (Women 18-34: 1.0/4; Men 18-34: 2.1/10; Women 18-49: 1.3/4; Men 18-49: 2.4/9).

CBS Sports and Turner Sports combined to proclaim the day as the highest-ever-rated first Thursday of the tournament as it all sixteen telecasts on the four networks delivered an average overnight rating of 6.6 rating and a 14 share. Thursday’s television coverage, which made NCAA Tournament history with five games decided by one point, showed ratings growth among the telecast windows.

  • The first daytime telecast window (12:00-4:30 PM, ET) averaged a 4.6/15 to tie last year as the highest rating for the game window in 25 years.
  • The second daytime telecast window (2:45-7:30 PM) averaged a 6.7/16 to garner the highest rating for the game window since 1991. The telecast window is up 24% compared with a 5.4/14 in 2014.
  • The first primetime telecast window (6:45-10:30 PM) averaged a 7.8/13 to register the highest rating for the game window in 25 years. The window surpassed a 7.7/15 in 2014.
  • The second primetime window (9:15 PM-1:15 AM) averaged a 7.1/13 to deliver the highest rating for the game window in 25 years and a 15% increase over the same telecast window last year (6.2/12).

North Carolina’s narrow win over Harvard on TNT was the day’s most-watched program on cable and topped cable prime time among adults 18-49.

The 3:30 p.m. telecast of Nickelodeon’s “Oggy and the Cockroaches” (1.539 million total viewers) ranked as the 38th most-watched cable program on all of Thursday.

The oft-promoted “Dig” hasn’t provided the great USA Network ratings of yore (e.g., most of the 2000’s) for it only delivered 1.428 million viewers (ranking a dismal 48th on cable for the day) and a 0.4 rating among adults 18-49 for the 10 p.m. telecast.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015
ABC PROGRAM HH/SHR VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
8:00 Grey’s Anatomy 5.3/9 7730 1.6/7 2.1/7 2.6/8
9:00 Scandal 5.4/9 7791 1.7/6 2.4/7 2.9/7
10:00 American Crime 3.8/7 5542 0.7/3 1.2/4 1.6/4
CBS PROGRAM HH/SHR VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
7:00 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Cincinnati vs. Purdue 3.5/6 5514 1.3/6 1.6/6 1.9/6
9:53 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 3.8/6 6066 1.5/6 1.8/6 2.1/6
10:07 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Kentucky vs. Hampton (thru 12:35 a.m.) 3.5/7 5460 1.6/7 1.8/7 2.1/7
NBC PROGRAM HH/SHR VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
8:00 Dateline NBC 4.2/7 6471 0.7/3 1.2/4 1.8/5
9:00 The Blacklist 5.4/9 8636 0.8/3 1.8/6 2.5/7
10:01 The Slap 2.2/4 3181 0.3/1 0.7/2 0.9/3
FOX PROGRAM HH/SHR VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
8:00 American Idol XIV 5.2/9 8512 1.3/5 1.8/6 2.5/7
CW PROGRAM HH/SHR VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
8:00 The Vampire Diaries 1.1/4 1593 0.7/3 0.7/2 0.7/2
9:00 Reign 0.7/1 1044 0.3/1 0.3/1 0.4/1
UNI PROGRAM HH/SHR VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
7:00 La Sombra del Pasado 1.0/2 1961 0.6/3
8:00 Mi Corazon es Tuyo 1.8/3 3642 1.4/5
9:00 Hasta el Fin del Mundo 1.7/3 3395 1.2/4
10:03 Que Te Perdone Dios 1.5/3 2905 1.0/3
TBS PROGRAM HH VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
1:30 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Georgia State vs. Baylor 825 0.4
3:58 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 892 0.4
4:11 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Ole Miss vs. Xavier 984 0.4
6:39 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Lafayette vs. Villanova 0.61 1022 0.41 0.38 0.39
8:58 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 0.49 728 0.29 0.25 0.25
9:13 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: LSU vs. NC State 1.14 1758 0.86 0.71 0.70
11:33 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Post-Gun (thru 11:39) 1057 0.5
TNT PROGRAM HH VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
2:00 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Texas Southern vs. Arizona 501 0.2
4:29 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 607 0.2
4:46 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Ohio State vs. VCU 2906 1.1
7:24 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Harvard vs. North Carolina 2.04 3224 1.29 1.32 1.34
9:36 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 1.04 1651 0.66 0.70 0.65
9:46 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Wofford vs. Arkansas 1.29 2030 0.88 0.93 0.89
12:14a 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Post-Gun (thru 12:21 a.m.) 1318 0.7
truTV PROGRAM HH VWRS(000) A18-34 A18-49 A25-54
11:00a 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Pre-Game 149 0.0
12:30 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Iowa State vs. UAB 944 0.3
2:53 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 687 0.2
3:04 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: SMU vs. UCLA 802 0.3
5:37 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge (thru 5:50) 522 0.2
6:48 NCAA Press Conferences 194 0.1
7:00 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Pre-Game 391 0.2
8:00 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Utah vs. Stephen F. Austin 0.65 1066 0.44 0.47 0.48
10:26 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bridge 0.55 841 0.24 0.34 0.41
10:45 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Georgetown vs. Eastern Washington 0.60 996 0.42 0.43 0.41
1:11a 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Post-Gun (thru 1:16 a.m.) 583 0.3

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research