HomeSportsNCAA Tournament Posts Record Ratings After Insane First Round of March Madness

NCAA Tournament Posts Record Ratings After Insane First Round of March Madness

by Suzanne Halliburton
fairleigh dickinson players celebrate Purdue win
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Face it. All our March Madness brackets are trash. But as the TV ratings reveal, we’re all in for watching every stunning upset.

CBS Sports announced that viewership for the first round of March Madness was the most-watched ever.

The total audience for the first round, which was divided between Thursday and Friday, averaged 9.2 million viewers. The viewership went up, Friday, to an average of 9.3 million. CBS says that’s the best first round day, ever.

Tennessee-Louisiana Game Was Most Watched to Open March Madness

You can watch all the March Madness games, but you’ll need a list of all the stations your cable or streaming service provides. CBS is spreading the action across the main network, TBS, TNT and truTV. Plus, CBS is adding in viewers from the app March Madness Live.

On Thursday, the top viewed game in primetime was Auburn-Iowa on TNT. That game drew 3.44 million. According to Sports Media Watch, the game edged Duke-Oral Roberts on CBS. That game, which was on CBS, averaged 3.43 million.

Meanwhile Texas-Colgate averaged 1.71 million on TBS. The Northwestern-Boise State matchup on truTV drew 1.58 million viewers.

The late-night Thursday games did well, too, averaging a collective 8.5 million. Louisiana-Tennessee on CBS reached 3.48 million, while Houston-Northern Kentucky on TNT drew 2.49 million. Penn State’s ouster of Texas A&M on TBS pulled 1.85 million. UCLA-UNC Asheville attracted 703,000 on truTV.

The breakdown of the Friday games wasn’t available, as yet.

March Madness has been particularly insane this year. On Friday, 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson, knocked off No. 1 Purdue. The victory was only the second time in NCAA history that a 16 has triumphed over a No. 1. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County was the first 16 to pull off the feat. That was in 2018, when No. 1 Virginia limped home to Charlottesville after a one-and-done.

The game was FDU’s second in this year’s March Madness. The shortest team in the field first needed to beat Texas Southern in a play-in game.

But misery loves company in the mania that is March Madness. The Arizona Wildcats, a No. 2 seed, fell to Princeton. And fourth-seeded Virginia lost to Furman.

The upsets didn’t stop as March Madness moved into the second round, Saturday. Top-seeded Kansas, the defending national champions, lost to Arkansas. And Princeton continued its improbable run, knocking off Missouri to advance to the Sweet 16.

It’s all why we love this time of year.