Kansas’ Epic Comeback Draws 18M – Deadline

Last night’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship nail-biter that saw Kansas defeat North Carolina 72-69 was the most-viewed NCAA Men’s Championship Game ever on cable television. The Kansas-UNC game delivered an average of 18.1 million viewers, based on total audience delivery. That’s up 4% over last year’s National Championship match up between Baylor and Gonzaga.

It didn’t hurt that the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks staged the biggest halftime comeback in championship game history, from down 15 to a 3 point margin of victory.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ telecast across TBS, TNT and truTV makes Kansas-North Carolina the third most-watched college basketball game in cable TV history. Saturday’s UNC-Duke Final Four National Semifinal matchup, featuring the final game of legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, averaged 18.5 million viewers. That puts it second all time.

The 2022 NCAA Men’s Tournament airing across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV averaged 10.7 million total viewers and a 17.0 share (the percentage of households or viewers who are watching television at that time) for its 67 live game telecasts. Both those measures are up 13% over last year. The 17.0 share is the best for the entire NCAA Men’s Tournament since 1994.

The 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship game on Sunday featuring South Carolina’s wire-to-wire victory scored 4.85 million viewers to become the most-watched women’s title game since 2004. It was the fourth-largest audience to watch a women’s championship game since ESPN exclusively aired the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament in 1996.

The 4.85 million viewers tuning in across ESPN networks Sunday was the most-watched cable program of the day, an audience increase of 18 percent year-over-year and 30 percent from 2019.

Back on the men’s side, NCAA March Madness Live set multiple all-time records for last night’s Kansas/UNC championship, including the largest audience and most minutes consumed for a single game in MML history. Kansas/UNC netted a peak of 1.6 million concurrent streams, breaking the previous record set just two days prior during the Duke/UNC showdown. This year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament generated the most live uniques for any full tournament in MML history, a 12% increase over the previous record, which was set in 2019.

Official NCAA Men’s March Madness social handles generated a 58% increase vs. the previous all-time high, set in 2021. For last night’s Championship Game, social engagements saw a 33% lift compared to the prior record.

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