Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game provided a big boost to its cable provider, with ratings not seen in years.
What Happened: The championship game saw the Kansas Jayhawks defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels with a score of 72 to 69.
The game aired on TBS, a cable channel owned by AT&T Inc. T.
One of the huge stories of the game was a dramatic comeback by the Jayhawks, who were down 15 points at halftime.
The game had an average viewership of 18.1 million people during its broadcast, making it the most viewed NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game ever aired on cable television.
Viewership of the game was up 4% year-over-year from last year’s National Championship Game featuring the Baylor Bears and Gonzaga Bulldogs, which aired on Paramount Global Inc PARAPARAA unit CBS.
The championship game was the third most-watched college basketball game in cable television history and actually wasn’t the most viewed game of the tournament for TBS.
The semifinal match between Duke and North Carolina on Saturday, which turned out to be Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last game, had an average of 18.5 million viewers, ranking second for college basketball cable games of all time.
Along with strong growth for the men’s basketball games, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Game saw a viewership of 4.85 million on ESPN, a unit of Walt Disney Co DIS.
This was the most-watched women’s basketball championship game since 2004 and the fourth-largest viewership since 1996. Sunday’s women’s basketball championship game was the most-watched program on cable television for the day.
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Why It’s Important: The 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament coverage was split between CBS and Turner Sports channels (TBS, TNT, truTV).
Overall viewership of the tournament had an average of 10.7 million viewers per game, up 13% year-over-year. Games had a 17.0 share for the percentage of households watching the game out of those watching television at the time.
This was the largest share tournament games have had since 1994.
Along with strong television viewership, NCAA Men’s Tournament streaming figures were also up with the championship game having 1.6 million concurrent streams, setting a record for March Madness Live. The Duke vs. North Carolina game set the record two days prior.
March Madness Live streams were up 12% from the record set previously in 2019.
The 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game saw a nice rebound in viewership. The 2021 game had viewership down 14% from the previous year.
AT&T could be the big winner here as it had huge viewership for the championship game and also lucked into a semifinal matchup that featured one of the most storied rivalries in college basketball with the added storyline of Coach K’s pending retirement.
Given the jump in streaming figures and the overall growth in games during the tournament, Paramount could also get a boost, despite not having the rights to this year’s Final Four and Championship games.
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