Move to cable costs NCAA championship game viewers

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Compared to last year, Jim Nantz lost more than half his audience with the NCAA men's basketball championship game's move from CBS to cable television's TBS.

Just under 13.9 million people watched Villanova's last-second victory over North Carolina on TBS last week, which used the CBS basketball crew of Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery, the Nielsen company said. The 2015 final between Duke and Wisconsin, shown on CBS, had 28.3 million viewers.

The Turner networks split the audience for the final game, showing telecasts with team-specific announcing teams on TNT and Tru TV. Add in those viewers, and the final was seen by a total of 17.8 million people. CBS did not provide the team-specific streams of the final game last year, not wanting to dilute its audience, but that wasn't an issue with Turner owning TBS, TNT and Tru TV.

March Madness fans can expect similar arrangements in the future. CBS and Turner on Tuesday announced an extension of its deal with the NCAA to show the tournament through 2032.

The women's national championship, with Connecticut winning its fourth straight title by beating Syracuse, was seen by just under 3 million viewers on ESPN last week.

Although CBS was the most popular broadcast network last week, Fox earned a win in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic by showing the final two episodes of "American Idol." The iconic series' finale was seen by 13.3 million viewers, Nielsen said.

CBS averaged 7.8 million viewers in prime time last week. NBC had 5.7 million viewers, Fox had 5.4 million, ABC had 5 million, Univision had 1.9 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, the CW had 1.3 million and Telemundo had 1.2 million.

TBS was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.7 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 1.91 million, USA had 1.68 million, HGTV had 1.51 million and ESPN had 1.29 million.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.3 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 7.9 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.8 million viewers.

For the week of April 4-10, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 15.67 million; NCAA Basketball Championship: Villanova vs. North Carolina, TBS, 13.85 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 13.5 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 13.31 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 12.28 million; "Little Big Shots," NBC, 12.27 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.99 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 11.72 million; "Empire," Fox, 11.34 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 10.43 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.