Final Four viewership down 11 percent after games move to cable

In the end, three cable channels were apparently unable to level the playing field with one broadcaster.

According to final ratings, Final Four television viewership slipped by about 11 percent when the semifinal games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament moved from CBS to a trio of cable channels, headlined by TBS.

According to multiple reports, the two games averaged 14 million viewers, or about 11 percent fewer than last year's games, which were broadcast on CBS. Main cable coverage was provided by TBS, with additional coverage on TNT and truTV. TBS alone is in 14 percent fewer homes than CBS. CBS and Turner are in the midst of a 14-year deal with the NCAA to jointly broadcast the tournament.

This year marked the first time the semifinal games were shown only on cable. Tonight's championship game will again be on CBS.

Despite the drop, the numbers were good for cable. The Kentucky-Wisconsin contest averaged 16.3 million viewers and the University of Connecticut and Florida drew 11.7 million. Before those numbers, the most-watched college basketball game on cable was a 2013 Sweet 16 tussle between Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.

For more:
- see this AP story
- and this Dallas Morning News story

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