Kentucky's 1st loss draws best TV rating for semi since '93
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Wisconsin's win over previously undefeated Kentucky drew the highest preliminary television rating for an NCAA semifinal in 22 years.
The Badgers' 71-64 victory Saturday night averaged a 13.3 overnight rating and 24 share across TBS, TNT and truTV, according to Turner Sports and CBS on Sunday. That's up 48 percent from last season's matchup of the same teams.
It was the best rating for a semi since a 13.8/24 in 1993 when Michigan's Fab Five sophomores edged the Wildcats in overtime.
The two games Saturday averaged an 11.4/22, the best since 1995 and up 39 percent from a year ago. Duke's 81-61 win over Michigan State received a 9.6/20, the highest for the early game since Illinois-Louisville in 2005 and a 30 percent increase from last season's UConn-Florida matchup.
Viewership has been strong all tournament, with a string of upsets and close games the first Thursday building momentum and Kentucky's pursuit of perfection piquing fans' interest. A championship game between Kentucky and Duke on Monday on CBS would have attracted a massive audience, though the matchup of the Blue Devils and Badgers will likely still do well.
The main broadcasts Saturday aired on TBS, with "homer" coverage for the teams on TNT and truTV. When the Final Four aired on cable for the first time last year, viewership for the semis on TBS was down from the games on CBS the previous season. As has occurred with other sports whose biggest games migrated to cable, Saturday's ratings showed that the most attractive matchups can still draw big audiences even with the networks available in fewer homes.
Ratings represent the percentage of U.S. households with televisions tuned to a program, while shares represent the percentage of TVs in use at the time. Overnights measure the country's largest markets. Full viewership numbers were expected later Sunday.