TOPLINE The Kansas Jayhawks’ thrilling comeback victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday drew an average of 18.1 million viewers in the United States, making it the most-watched NCAA men’s basketball championship game on cable television, according to Turner Sports, surpassing last year’s broadcast despite not airing on network television.
KEY FACTS NCAA Basketball Final
The men’s final game, which was broadcast across Turner’s cable networks TBS, TNT, and truTV, saw a 4 percent increase in viewership over last year’s Gonzaga/Baylor battle on CBS.
Monday’s game was the third-most-watched college basketball game ever on cable television, trailing only Saturday night’s Duke/UNC Final Four clash (18.5 million viewers) and 2015’s Wisconsin/Kentucky NCAA Final Four game (which holds the cable record with 22.6 million viewers, according to the Associated Press).
The men’s March Madness tournament averaged 10.7 million viewers overall this year, up 13% from 2021, and had the highest audience share—or proportion of total TV viewers—since 1994, according to Turner Sports.
Turner Sports will broadcast the Final Four and championship games in even-numbered years, while CBS will host the contests in odd-numbered years, according to a 2016 pact with the NCAA.
Since then, when CBS—a broadcast network that traditionally pulls better ratings than its cable competitors—airs the championship game, ratings have often risen, but this is the first time Turner has surpassed its network television counterpart since CBS only got 16.9 million viewers in 2021.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
It’s unclear why the NCAA Final Four game on Saturday fared better than the championship game on Monday. Viewers may have tuned in to see Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell Sports game, as the 75-year-old was due to step down at the conclusion of the season after 42 years as the Blue Devils’ coach. Duke, is one of the most well-known basketball teams in the United States. Also played in 2015 Final Four, which set a new cable television record for the most-watched men’s college basketball game.
According to Sports Media Watch, the men’s NCAA championship has been shown on CBS for decades. Before the most current broadcasting arrangement. And viewership had generally varied between 17 million and 24 million since the early 2000s. The 1979 NCAA Basketball Final championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State, United States. Which drew 35.1 million people to NBC. Is the all-time most-watched college basketball game ever. Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, both future Hall of Famers, would have a decade-long rivalry after that game.
TANGENT Basketball Championship:
Last July, 12.5 million people watched Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 2021—roughly a third less than the collegiate counterpart on Monday night. Overall, men’s March Madness in 2022 outperformed last year’s NBA playoffs, attracting 10.7 million average viewers compared to only 4.3 million in 2021.