CBS sees jump in national championship ratings ... sort of

Even without the “blueblood” programs playing, CBS saw an increase in national championship ratings. Well, sort of.

The network announced Tuesday morning that Virginia’s thrilling overtime victory over Texas Tech Monday night generated a 12.4/22 rating, a sizable jump — 20 percent) from last year’s 10.3/18 that was generated by Villanova’s win over Michigan. But that game aired on TBS — a cable network in significantly fewer homes (read: millions) than CBS.

Monday night’s broadcast peaked with a 15.0/30 from 11:30-11:45 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen. Despite the gains from 2018 to 2019, Monday night’s ratings fell short of the last time the title game aired on CBS. The 2017 national title game between Gonzaga and North Carolina drew a 14.5 household rating.

Had a household-name program like Duke, with freshman sensation Zion Williamson as the star, advanced to the title game, CBS would have likely seen a bigger number.

Nonetheless, the top markets for Monday night’s game were Richmond, Norfolk, Minneapolis, Louisville and Kansas City, CBS said.

Virginia players Kihei Clark, from left, De'Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome celebrate at the end of the championship game against Texas Tech in the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. Virginia won 85-77 in overtime. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Virginia players Kihei Clark, De'Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome celebrate at the end of the championship game against Texas Tech. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

On the whole, the network says its NCAA tournament ratings across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV were up 11 percent from last year while streaming numbers soared, including over 100 million live streams of “March Madness Live.”

“NCAA March Madness Live generated a record for last night’s NCAA Championship Game based on live uniques, with live streams and live hours consumed showing increases of 19% (live streams) and 7% (live hours consumed) vs. last year. MML also set all-time daily records in both live hours (eight times) and live streams (five times) throughout this year’s tournament,” CBS said.

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