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Viewers Go Crazy for CBS’ NCAA Coverage

March 24, 2008 2:21 PM

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March Madness scored some nightly wins for CBS as the winnowing began.

CBS officially won Thursday with a 3.4 rating/10 share average in the 18-49 demographic for its first-round coverage of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, according to final Nielsen numbers.

The rating ties last year’s opening-round numbers.

In second for the night, ABC (3.0) ran two new episodes of “Miss Guided” (2.1, 2.3), which were down 22% and 15% from the show’s debut after “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday. “Lost” (4.6) was the top-rated show of the night with a series low, excluding specials and clip shows.

NBC (2.8) placed third with nearly average showings from “Celebrity Apprentice” (3.2) and the season finale of “Lipstick Jungle” (2.6).

Fox placed fourth with its game shows (2.4), while The CW came in fifth (1.3).

CBS rolled into another win on Friday with its NCAA coverage (3.1), but because live programming gets preliminary Nielsen numbers all funky, that number is expected to change once final numbers are in.

ABC took second (1.7) with a double dose of “20/20” (1.8, 2.3). Fox tied NBC and The CW for third (1.4). In its second outing, Fox’s “The Return of Jezebel James” continued to languish, tying its 1.1 premiere last week.

The NCAA coverage gave CBS a Saturday win, too (3.3). Again, preliminary numbers are subject to change. ABC (2.3), with Easter mainstay “The Ten Commandments,” nabbed a 2.3 average for the night, good for second place. Fox was third (1.9) and NBC was fourth (1.1).

Coming into Sunday, ABC ended CBS’ three-day streak and placed first for the night with a 3.1. ABC’s feel-good Sunday (“Extreme Makeover,” “Oprah’s Big Give,” “Here Comes the Newlyweds”) scored ratings that were similar to last week’s numbers.

CBS was second (2.5) with NCAA overrun and its Sunday night lineup, including “Big Brother” (2.3) and “Dexter” (1.7), both essentially flat from last week. Numbers will change once final ratings come in for basketball.

NBC (1.7) took third with a two-hour “Dateline” (1.3), down 32% from last week, as well as “Law & Order” repeats.

Fox (1.6) was a close fourth with repeats of its animated series and two new episodes of “Unhitched,” both earning a 1.5, down 32% from last week.

The CW ended up fifth with a 0.5. Time-period switches for “Girlfriends” (0.5) and “The Game” (0.6) jostled ratings up 25% and 50% from their previous respective averages.

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