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TBS gets big ratings bounce from NCAA men’s basketball tournament

Oregon State guard Tariq Silver drives on Oklahoma State guard Keylan Boone in a men's college basketball game.
Oklahoma State guard Keylan Boone, left, and Oregon State guard Tariq Silver in the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Prime-time coverage of the opening week of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament lifted TBS to second among cable networks, four spots higher than the previous week.

TBS averaged 1.884 million viewers for its prime-time programming between March 15 and Sunday, which included four nights of tournament coverage, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

TBS’ viewership was up 46.6% from its 1.006 million average the previous week.

TNT, which had three nights of tournament coverage, was fourth, averaging 1.41 million viewers, a 98.3% increase from the previous week.

Fox News Channel was the top-rated cable channel in prime time for the eighth consecutive week, averaging 2.233 million viewers, 8.7% less than its 2.445 million average the previous week. MSNBC dropped to third after seven consecutive second-place finishes, averaging 1.654 million viewers, 10.3% less than its 1.843 million average the previous week.

TBS’ coverage of Oregon State’s 80-70 upset of Oklahoma State Sunday was the week’s highest-rated cable program, averaging 3.59 million viewers, 28th overall.

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The cable top 20 consisted of nine programs on Fox News Channel; five broadcasts of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show”; four NCAA tournament games on TBS; and one program each on the History Channel (“The Curse of Oak Island”) and TLC (“90 Day Fiancé”).

The CBS action drama “NCIS” had the biggest prime-time audience for the second consecutive week and fourth time in eight week, averaging 9.985 million viewers, 2.1% higher than its 9.779 million average the previous week.

CBS also had the week’s second- and third-most watched programs. “FBI,” which followed “NCIS,” averaged 8.077 million viewers, while “60 Minutes” was third, averaging 7.892 million viewers.

CBS also had the week’s highest-ranked comedy with “The Neighborhood,” 12th for the week, averaging 5.392 million viewers.

“FBI: Most Wanted,” which followed “FBI,” was the ratings winner among programs that started at 10 p.m. for the second consecutive week, averaging a season-high 6.262 million viewers, seventh for the week.

NBC had the three highest-rated non-CBS programs, topped by the Monday edition of “The Voice,” which averaged 7.847 million viewers, fourth for the week.

CBS finished first in the network race for the ninth consecutive week and 11th time in the 26-week-old 2020-21 television season, averaging 4.48 million viewers.

NBC averaged 3.63 million viewers to finish second and ABC averaged 3.43 million viewers to finish third.

Fox was fourth for the eighth consecutive week, averaging 1.98 million viewers. The CW again was fifth among the five major English-language broadcast networks, averaging 700,000 viewers.

The two-hour season finale of “The Bachelor” drew ABC’s biggest audience, averaging 6.104 million viewers, ninth for the week.

Fox’s ratings topper was “The Masked Singer,” 13th for the week, averaging 5.128 million viewers.

The crime drama “Walker” was The CW’s biggest draw for the second consecutive week, averaging 1.45 million viewers, putting it 86th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The only premiere on the five major English-language broadcast networks, Fox’s reboot of “America’s Most Wanted,” was 71st among the week’s broadcast and cable programs, averaging 2.254 million viewers.


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