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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Plunges to Record TV Low

  • UConn-San Diego State averages 14.69 million viewers.
  • That's the lowest viewership on record behind last year and 2018.
UConn vs San Diego State
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s NCAA March Madness tournament hit the highest of highs and lowest of lows television-wise.

Only one day after the Women’s Final between LSU and Iowa set a record for TV viewership, Monday’s Men’s Final between Connecticut and San Diego State sank to record TV lows.

CBS Sports’ telecast of the Huskies’ 76-59 win over the Aztecs averaged 14.69 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch

That was down 14% from the 17.05 million average who tuned in for last year’s Final coverage across Warner Bros. Discovery Sports’ TBS, TNT, and TruTV.

It was the lowest viewership on record for the men’s title game behind last year and 16 million for Villanova-Michigan in 2018.

Of course, the numbers likely would have been better for CBS if a blue-blood program like Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky reached the Final. 

Cinderella teams like the Aztecs generate excitement. But in the end, their unknown quality hurts viewership.

There are also questions about the Huskies’ national TV appeal. 

“UConn has played in two of the five least-watched title games overall — its 2004 win over Georgia Tech ranks fifth (17.09M) — making it the only team with multiple games in the bottom five,” noted Sports Media Watch.

The game also marked the last Final Four telecast for legendary CBS announcer Jim Nantz, who will continue to call golf, including this week’s Masters tournament and NFL games.

While the men’s final floundered in the ratings, fans are still buzzing about the LSU Tigers’ 102-85 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the women’s final on Sunday.

ABC’s telecast easily shattered the record for the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever.

The game averaged 9.9 million viewers, up 103% from last year’s South Carolina-UConn Women’s Final.

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