Ratings Roundup: Turner, CBS Tourney Coverage a Ratings Slam Dunk

If initial overnight ratings are any indication, the new CBS-Turner combo coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is a massive success. Second Round coverage on CBS, TNT, TBS, truTV delivered a 5.7 overnight rating, up 24% from a 4.6 on CBS last year. The 5.7 rating was the highest for the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament in the metered markets since 1991, when the tournament expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day.

The early windows showed the most viewership gains. The first telecast window of the day (12:00 NOON-4:15 PM, ET) combined to earn a 4.4, up 42% from a 3.1 last year. The second window of the day (3:00-6:45 PM, ET) delivered a 5.1, up 46% from a 3.5 last year.

However, the evening telecast also produced improved numbers. The third telecast window of the day (7:00-9:45 PM, ET) delivered a 6.5, up 8% from a 6.0 in 2010. The final window of the day (9:15 PM-12:30 AM, ET) earned a 6.9, up 13% from a 6.1 last year….

The second night of the First Four games during the NCAA Tournament failed to match the big ratings generated by the first night. On Wednesday, TruTV averaged a 0.5 U.S. rating and 786,000 watchers for its coverage of University of Texas San Antonio-Alabama State from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 16, followed by a 0.8 and 1.25 million watchers on average for VCU-USC in the nightcap. the initial “First Four” games on March 15 logged a 0.8 and 1.2 million viewers for UNC Asheville- Arkansas Little Rock, while Clemson v. UAB earned a 0.9 household rating and 1.35 million watchers in the nightcap. For the First Four, TruTV averaged a 0.8 U.S. rating and 1.142 million viewers for coverage of the First Four on Tuesday and Wednesday night…

…CBS’ NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Selection Show led all sports telecasts last week with a 4.0 final rating. That figure is down slightly from a 4.1 rating last year…

…The 2011 Major League Soccer season kicked off with bang, as Tuesday’s Galaxy-Sounders season opener earned a 0.39 U.S. rating and 604,000 viewers on ESPN2, up 129% in ratings and 112% in viewership from last year (Philadelphia-Seattle: 0.17, 285K). The game also earned 79,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes, up 84% from last year (PHI/SEA: 43K). Combining the household and P2+ viewership for the ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes telecasts, Tuesday’s match drew a 0.43 U.S. rating and 683,000 viewers, up 115% and 108%, respectively, from last year (0.20, 328K)…

…It may not be carrying March Madness, but ESPN still had a solid March for college basketball, as its coverage of the conference tournaments during ‘Championship Week’ averaged a 1.0 U.S. rating and 1.486 million viewers, up 1% in ratings and 11% in viewership from last year (0.9, 1.344M), which was the most viewed Championship Week on record, behind only 2009.

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