Viewership down in final game

I don’t know how many games I watched of the men’s NCAA basketball championship tournament including the finals, but apparently I was part of a cult that made up the smallest finals viewership ever when Villanova beat up on Michigan. 

 There were plenty of outstanding games leading up to the finals, but like a lot of tournaments, the final game didn’t turn out to be very close and that caused viewers to start channel hopping.

The Michigan and Villanova final saw significant declines in ratings compared to last year. 

Airing on TBS, TNT and tru TV, the game averaged 16.5 million viewers, which was down approximately 28 percent from 2017’s 23 million when the game aired on CBS. 

In addition, this year’s game pulled in a 10.3 rating in Nielsen metered market households – the lowest such rating ever recorded for a college basketball national championship game. 

The finals barely registered as the highest-rated game of this year’s tournament, because the Duke-Kansas game in the Midwest Regional Final received a 10.1 on CBS.

Part of this is in cable versus broadcast TV. Such viewership declines are not uncommon as the championship game alternates between broadcast and cable. 

The viewership in 2017 was up 29 percent compared to the 17.8 million who watched on the Turner networks in 2016.

First round action in the tournament was a winner for CBS. Airing across primetime, the tournament averaged 4.98 million total viewers, according to Nielsen final live-plus-same day numbers. That is up 11 percent from last year’s 4.47 million the comparable night. 

I would imagine the lop-sidedness of the game didn’t help numbers either. 

Despite the declining numbers, this year’s game was easily the most-watched telecast of the night. The closest competition to the tournament was NBC’s “The Voice” with 9.9 million viewers.

Even with the drop in viewers, the NCAA isn’t suffering financially. Last year the NCAA brought in a record $1 billion in revenue from media rights fees, ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and a whole lot of television ads anchored around the three week tournament. 

In 2010 the NCAA signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract with CBS sports and Turner Broadcasting; paid over a 14-year term. The deal was extended in April of 2016 for a combined total rights fee of $8.8 billion that will keep the tournament on the networks until 2032. 

I think I might be covered for pretty much the rest of my life with the knowledge the NCAA tournament will be on TV. 

I had the opportunity to attend the NCAA finals one time so far in my life, and that might be it. I looked into getting tickets for the regional games in Omaha this year. However, I decided I didn’t want to mortgage my house and TV would be the best option. 

Looking at some of the ticket outlets, the cheapest tickets were around $300 and the ones on the floor were just under $2,000 each. I talked to a person who went to Omaha and waited outside. He said about five minutes before tipoff, he scored two tickets for $150 each. 

When Travis and I went back in the 90s, I got the tickets from the lottery the NCAA has. The tournament was at the Metra Dome in Minnesota. It was a really good experience but our seats were so high the game was just a rumor. But we were there! I would do it again but then the tickets were something like $75 dollars each for the two semi-finals and the finals. Times have changed.

Whatever the financial situation is, the past few weeks are one of the highlights of my year because there will be three weeks of outstanding games leading up to the finals and now you get to see just about all of them. 

Loved every minute of it.

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