Prime-Time Final Four Game Draws Smallest Audience Since 2003

Man watching TV, remote control in hand

Photo: Getty Images

HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - Viewership for CBS' coverage of Saturday's prime- time men's Final Four game was the lowest since 2003 but still last week's most-watched prime-time program.

Eventual national champion Connecticut's 72-59 victory over Miami averaged 12.854 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday. The audience was the smallest for a prime-time national semifinal since 2003 when CBS' coverage of eventual national champion Syracuse's 95-84 victory over Texas averaged 12.57 million viewers in a telecast affected by coverage of the Iraq War.

Viewership was down 27.2% from the 17.663 million average for last year's prime-time semifinal, the TBS, TNT and truTV simulcast of the final game of Mike Krzyzewski's 42-season career as Duke's men's basketball coach, the most-watched national semifinal game since 2017. The 29-minute ``bridge'' show preceding the Connecticut-Miami game was second for the week, averaging 12.249 million viewers. ESPN's coverage of Iowa's 77-73 victory over previously undefeated South Carolina Friday in a women's Final Four game, was the week's most-watched cable program and 13th overall, averaging 5.175 million viewers, ESPN's third most-viewed women's college basketball game on record.

LSU's 102-85 victory over Iowa on Sunday afternoon in the championship game on ABC averaged 9.9 million viewers, the most-viewed women's college basketball game and ESPN platforms' most-viewed college basketball game (men's or women's) on record. CBS' ``Young Sheldon'' was the most-watched non-sports program between March 27 and Sunday -- and the only other one to top 7 million viewers --averaging 7.129 million viewers. Each of its 16 episodes during the 2022-23 prime-time television season has been its week's most-watched comedy. CBS finished first for the eighth time in 10 weeks, averaging 5.62 million viewers. It aired each of the week's top four programs and seven of the top 10, including ``60 Minutes,'' fourth for the week, averaging 6.985 million viewers.

The only times CBS has not finished first in the past 10 weeks were the weeks of Feb. 6-13, when Fox aired Super Bowl LVII, and March 6-12, when ABC aired the Oscars. NBC was second for the third consecutive week, averaging 3.45 million viewers. ``Chicago Fire'' was its most-watched program for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.844 million viewers, finishing fifth for the second consecutive week. ABC was third among the broadcast networks for the third consecutive week, averaging 3.31 million viewers. ``American Idol'' was ABC's most-watched program for the sixth time in the seven weeks it has aired this season, finishing 16th, averaging 5.057 million viewers. The only interruption to the streak was the week that ABC aired the Oscars. CBS, NBC and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming. Fox averaged 1.71 million viewers for its 15 hours of programming. ``The Masked Singer'' was its most-watched program, finishing 29th, averaging 3.91 million viewers. The CW averaged 420,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. The superhero drama ``Superman & Lois'' was its most-watched program for the second time in the three weeks it has aired this season, averaging 642,000 viewers, 149th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of the Connecticut-Miami men's prime-time Final Four game and the 29-minute ``bridge'' show preceding it; five CBS scripted programs, its news magazine ``60 Minutes,'' its presentation of the CMT Music Awards and alternative series ``Survivor''; four NBC scripted programs and the two editions of its singing competition ``The Voice''; ESPN's coverage of the Iowa-South Carolina women's Final Four game; and three ABC programs -- its singing competition, ``American Idol,'' ``America's Funniest Home Videos'' and the police drama ``The Rookie.'' Fox News Channel returned to the top of the cable ratings after a one-week absence, averaging 2.281 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 1.624 million viewers. MSNBC was the other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming, averaging 1.427 million viewers.

The cable prime-time top 20 consisted of two NCAA women's Final Four games and the 25-minute bridge show between them on ESPN; 12 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows (five broadcasts each of ``Tucker Carlson Tonight'' and ``Hannity'' and two of ``The Ingraham Angle''); four MSNBC weeknight political talk shows (the March 27 and Thursday editions of ``The Rachel Maddow Show'' and the Thursday editions of ``The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell'' and ``All In with Chris Hayes''); and History's long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, ``The Curse of Oak Island.''

``The Night Agent'' was Netflix's most-watched title for the second consecutive week, with viewers watching the 10-episode action thriller for 216.39 million hours in the first full week it was available, 28.3% more than the 168.71 million hours the previous week when it was available for four days, according to figures released by the streaming service Tuesday. ``Murder Mystery 2'' was Netflix's most-watched movie, with viewers spending 64.42 million hours watching the Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston-starring action-mystery-comedy in the first three days it was available. For the second consecutive week, each of the four most-watched Spanish-language programs were episodes of the Univision telenovela, ``Mi Camino es Amarteo,'' topped by the March 29 episode which averaged 1.864 million viewers, 58th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

In the preceding three weeks, each of the five most-watched Spanish-language programs were episodes of ``Mi Camino es Amarteo.'' Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 34th consecutive week and 172nd time in 174 weeks, averaging 1.31 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 960,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (440,000) and Estrella TV (80,000). ABC's ``World News Tonight with David Muir'' was the most-watched nightly newscast for 173rd time in 174 weeks and 225th time in 227 weeks, averaging 8.237 million viewers. ``NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt'' was second, averaging 6.708 million viewers. The ``CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell'' was third, averaging 4.817 million viewers.

The week's 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS' coverage of the Connecticut-Miami NCAA men's basketball Final Four game and the 29-minute ``bridge'' show preceding it; CBS' ``Young Sheldon'' and `60 Minutes''; NBC's ``Chicago Fire,'' ``Chicago Med'' and the March 27 episode of NBC's singing competition ``The Voice''; and CBS' ``Ghosts,'' its presentation of  the CMT Music Awards and ``Survivor.''

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content