First Real Day of 2015 NCAA Tournament Action Scores Highest Opening Day Overnight Rating for CBS/Turner

Yes, there’s the First Four™, but that’s really the appetizer for the real action of the NCAA Tournament which began on Thursday with 16 games. By having 5 one-point games, two 14 seeds advancing and five Texas teams going 0-for-Thursday, CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV had a tremendous day of the 2015 Tournament.

Fans had a smorgasbord of action flipping between the four networks and the combined overnight rating was a 6.6 which was up 10% from last year’s opening day. And that according to the CBS/Turner consortium is the highest all-time overnight rating for the opening day (let’s face it, Thursday is the real Opening Day of the NCAA Tournament) of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

In addition, there were 22 million streams of the tournament on March Madness Live. No word of how many used cable and satellite provider TV Everywhere apps to watch.

The primetime windows scored very well with a 7.8 overnight rating and a 13 share for the early games and a 7.1/13 for the late contests.

Here’s the official word from CBS/Turner.

2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Scores Highest Overnight Rating Ever for First Thursday of Tournament

Turner Sports and CBS Sports’ Thursday’s NCAA Tournament Coverage Earns 6.6 Overnight Rating, Up 10% vs. 2014
NCAA March Madness Live Delivers Record-Setting First Thursday with 22 Million Live Video Streams

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive second round coverage of the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV on Thursday, March 19, delivered the all-time highest rating for the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament (since the tournament expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day in 1991). Thursday’s games averaged a 6.6/14 overnight ratings/share, up 10% compared with a 6.0/14 in 2014, according to Nielsen metered market ratings.

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live delivered a record-setting first Thursday of tournament action with 22 million live video streams registering a 12% increase over last year.

Thursday’s television coverage, which made NCAA Tournament history with five games decided by one point, showed ratings growth among the telecast windows.

  • The first daytime telecast window (12:00-4:30 p.m. ET) averaged a 4.6/15 to tie last year as the highest rating for the game window in 25 years.
  • The second daytime telecast window (2:45-7:30 p.m.) averaged a 6.7/16 to garner the highest rating in for the game window since 1991. The telecast window is up 24% compared with a 5.4/14 in 2014.
  • The first primetime telecast window (6:45-10:30 p.m.) averaged a 7.8/13 to register the highest rating for the game window in 25 years. The window surpassed a 7.7/15 in 2014.
  • The second primetime window (9:15 p.m.-1:15 a.m.) averaged a 7.1/13 to deliver the highest rating for the game window in 25 years and a 15% increase over the same telecast window last year (6.2/12).

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Arianna, Live +SD data stream. 3/19/15 vs. 03/20/14.   2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 averages based on weighted average of 4 telecast gross across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. Historical audiences, CBS 1991 through 2005 based on Live data.

There you have it.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.