NCAA Men’s Basketball TV Ratings, 1975-2008

Categories: TV Ratings Reference,TV Sports Ratings & News

Written By

April 15th, 2008

2008 Final Down Slightly From 2007

ncaabbthrough2008.gif

Update April 8, 2008: The final drew 19.50 million viewers. Click the link for more numbers regarding the 2008 final.

Update April 15, 2008: The chart and table have been updated.

I've been hooked on NCAA Basketball since my college days at Virginia (which started about the same time as this chart), and I've watched as much of the NCAA Men's basketball tournament every year as I possibly could. However, looking at the fairly constant TV ratings of the championship game, around 30 million viewers from 1975-1994 and then the steep drop to around 20 million since 2003, I wondered what the heck happened starting in 1995? I can't figure it out, maybe someone else out there knows something that I don't. Give it your best shot in the comments.

Here is the full data and some additional facts:

Year Avg. Through Regional Finals (million) Championship Game (million) Finals Matchup
1975   30.08 UCLA vs KENTUCKY
1976   26.71 INDIANA vs MICHIGAN
1977   26.40 MARQUETTE vs NORTH CAROLINA
1978   25.38 KENTUCKY vs DUKE
1979   35.11 MICHIGAN ST vs INDIANA ST
1980   no data LOUISVILLE vs UCLA
1981   29.06 INDIANA vs NORTH CAROLINA
1982   30.59 NORTH CAROLINA vs GEORGETOWN
1983   32.14 NC STATE vs HOUSTON
1984   25.14 GEORGETOWN vs HOUSTON
1985   31.23 VILLANOVA vs GEORGETOWN
1986   28.71 LOUISVILLE vs DUKE
1987   32.06 INDIANA vs SYRACUSE
1988   26.69 KANSAS vs OKLAHOMA
1989   31.12 MICHIGAN vs SETON HALL
1990   29.26 UNLV vs DUKE
1991   29.02 DUKE vs KANSAS
1992   34.31 DUKE vs MICHIGAN
1993   32.94 NORTH CAROLINA vs MICHIGAN
1994   32.73 ARKANSAS vs DUKE
1995   27.41 UCLA vs ARKANSAS
1996   26.67 KENTUCKY vs SYRACUSE
1997   28.36 ARIZONA vs KENTUCKY
1998   26.60 KENTUCKY vs UTAH
1999   26.30 CONNECTICUT vs DUKE
2000   20.59 MICHIGAN ST vs FLORIDA
2001 8.0 23.87 DUKE vs ARIZONA
2002 8.5 23.69 MARYLAND vs INDIANA
2003 7.2 18.57 SYRACUSE vs KANSAS
2004 8.4 17.09 CONNECTICUT vs GEORGIA TECH
2005 9.7 23.90 NORTH CAROLINA vs ILLINOIS
2006 8.8 17.54 FLORIDA vs UCLA
2007 8.3 19.56 FLORIDA vs OHIO STATE
2008   19.50 KANSAS vs MEMPHIS
2009   17.60 NORTH CAROLINA vs MICHIGAN STATE

  1. NBC televised the game from 1975-1981, CBS from 1982-present.
  2. Since 1975, the NCAA Championship Final game has always been on a Monday night, starting between 8-9pm Eastern until 1991 since then it's started at 9:15 Eastern every year except 1995 when it started at 8:30pm.
  3. 2006 & 2007 data above is Live+SD, all other data is Live viewing.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 
  • http://wedlockmusic.com Wedlock

    Okay:
    I think people turn the channel for blow outs like George Mason getting clobbered in 2006 by Florida in the final four, but aren’t the Neilsen numbers higher on opening weekend?(Thursday-Sunday)?Couldn’t this be attributable to having smnaller schools included with the possibility of an upset of a higher seed?

  • http://wedlockmusic.com Wedlock

    Okay:
    I think people turn the channel for blow outs like George Mason getting clobbered in 2006 by Florida in the final four, but aren't the Neilsen numbers higher on opening weekend?(Thursday-Sunday)?Couldn't this be attributable to having smnaller schools included with the possibility of an upset of a higher seed?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Wedlock, unfortunately we have no historical data other than what’s charted above. The blue line is aggregate ratings data for all games in a particular year through the regional finals. No breakout among rounds.

    This year we will get some individual game data at least for the games that CBS has in primetime.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Wedlock, unfortunately we have no historical data other than what's charted above. The blue line is aggregate ratings data for all games in a particular year through the regional finals. No breakout among rounds.

    This year we will get some individual game data at least for the games that CBS has in primetime.

  • jim

    Bottom line: basketball sucks and nobody cares.

  • jim

    Bottom line: basketball sucks and nobody cares.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    jim, you had Georgetown in your bracket too, huh?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    jim, you had Georgetown in your bracket too, huh?

  • David Krysakowski

    I just wish we had a tournament like this in December for football.

  • David Krysakowski

    I just wish we had a tournament like this in December for football.

© 2014 Tribune Digital Ventures