Men’s NCAA college basketball championship tops the weekly TV ratings and women’s championship wins cable

LSU's Angel Reese (10) and Iowa's Caitlin Clark (22) during the NCAA Women's championship game.
LSU’s Angel Reese (10) gestures to and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (22) during the NCAA Women’s championship game which aired on ABC.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Viewership for CBS’ coverage of Saturday’s prime-time men’s Final Four game was the lowest since 2003 but still was the highest ranked prime-time program last week.

Eventual national champion Connecticut’s 72-59 victory over Miami averaged 12.854 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday. The audience was the smallest for a prime-time national semifinal since 2003 when CBS’ coverage of eventual national champion Syracuse’s 95-84 victory over Texas averaged 12.57 million viewers in a telecast affected by coverage of the Iraq War.

Viewership was down 27.2% from the 17.663 million average for last year’s prime-time semifinal, the TBS, TNT and truTV simulcast of the final game of Mike Krzyzewski’s 42-season career as Duke’s men’s basketball coach, the most-watched national semifinal game since 2017.


The 29-minute “bridge” show preceding the Connecticut-Miami game was second for the week, averaging 12.249 million viewers.

ESPN’s coverage of Iowa’s 77-73 victory over previously undefeated South Carolina Friday in a women’s Final Four game led the week’s cable programs and was 13th overall, averaging 5.175 million viewers, to make it ESPN’s third most-viewed women’s college basketball game on record.

LSU’s 102-85 victory over Iowa Sunday afternoon in the championship game on ABC averaged 9.9 million viewers, with the biggest audience of all women’s college basketball games on record.

“Young Sheldon” on CBS led the nonsports programs between March 27 and Sunday — and was the only other program with more than 7 million viewers — averaging 7.129 million viewers. Each of its 16 episodes during the 2022-23 prime-time television season has been its week’s top ranked comedy.

Viewership for “60 Minutes,” which aired an interview with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), finished fourth averaging 6.985 million, down from the previous week’s first place average of 9.291 million viewers.

CBS finished first for the eighth time in 10 weeks, averaging 5.62 million viewers. It aired each of the week’s top four programs and seven of the top 10. The only times CBS has not finished first in the last 10 weeks were the weeks of Feb. 6-13, when Fox aired Super Bowl LVII, and March 6-12 when ABC aired the Oscars.


NBC was second for the third consecutive week, averaging 3.45 million viewers. “Chicago Fire” was its ratings leader for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.844 million viewers, finishing fifth for the second consecutive week.

ABC was third among the broadcast networks for the third consecutive week, averaging 3.31 million viewers. “American Idol” topped its ratings for the sixth time in the seven weeks it has aired this season, finishing 16th, averaging 5.057 million viewers. The only interruption to the streak was the week that ABC aired the Oscars.

Fox averaged 1.71 million viewers. The singing competition “The Masked Singer” had its biggest audience, finishing 29th, averaging 3.91 million viewers.

The CW averaged 420,000 viewers. The superhero drama “Superman & Lois” was its biggest draw for the second time in the three weeks it has aired this season, averaging 642,000 viewers, 149th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of the Connecticut-Miami men’s prime-time Final Four game and the 29-minute “bridge” show preceding it; five CBS scripted programs, its news magazine “60 Minutes,” its presentation of the CMT Music Awards and alternative series “Survivor”; four NBC scripted programs and the two editions of its singing competition “The Voice”; ESPN’s coverage of the Iowa-South Carolina women’s Final Four game; and three ABC programs — its singing competition, “American Idol,” alternative program “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and the police drama “The Rookie.”

Fox News Channel returned to the top of the cable ratings after a one-week absence, averaging 2.281 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 1.624 million viewers. MSNBC was the other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming, averaging 1.427 million viewers.


The prime-time cable top 20 consisted of two NCAA women’s Final Four games and a bridge show between them on ESPN; 12 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows (five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and two of “The Ingraham Angle”); four MSNBC weeknight political talk shows (the March 27 and Thursday editions of “The Rachel Maddow Show” and the Thursday editions of “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” and “All In With Chris Hayes”); and History’s “The Curse of Oak Island.”

“The Night Agent” was Netflix’s most-streamed title for the second consecutive week, with viewers watching the 10-episode action thriller for 216.39 million hours in the first full week it was available, 28.3% more than the 168.71 million hours the previous week when it was available for four days, according to figures released by the streaming service Tuesday.

“Murder Mystery 2” was Netflix’s most popular movie, with viewers spending 64.42 million hours watching the action-mystery-comedy, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, in the first three days it was available.