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March Madness Brings TV Ratings Tie

March 20, 2009 10:58 AM

ABC’s Thursday-night lineup squared off against CBS’ March Madness college basketball and the result was a tie.

Grey's Anatomy

A new episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC scored a 4.9 rating/12 share and 14.4 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. “Grey’s” was down a tenth of a point from last week’s episode and scored its lowest original rating. It still topped the night as the highest rated show.

ABC’s “Private Practice” (3.6/10, 10 million) posted a 9% increase over last week, but still dipped 10% from its previous season-to-date average. While both shows technically scored better than CBS’s basketball coverage, “Ugly Betty” (2.1/6, 7.6 million) in the 8 p.m. hour remained flat over last week and helped give the network an average 3.5/10 (10.6 million) for the night.

CBS’ coverage of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament scored a 3.5/10 (9.4 million) during its prime-time run from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (EST). First-day coverage of the tournament (12:15-5:15 p.m. and 7 p.m.-12:15 a.m. EST) averaged a 4.7/10 in the overnight household numbers, up 9% from the average first day performance last year. Due to the volatile nature of live sports programming, final ratings figures for last night’s prime-time coverage are expected to change.

CBS Sports' exclusive live coverage of the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship on Thursday, March 19 (12:15-5:15 PM, ET, and 7:00 PM-12:15 AM, ET) earned an average overnight household rating/share of 4.7/10. The 4.7/10 is up +9% from a 4.3/10 for the first day last year.

Fox came up third for the night with a 3.1/9 (8.9 million). “Bones” (3.0/9, 10.2 million) increased 7% over last week, while “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.3/8, 7.6 million) posted a 10% gain.

NBC trailed Fox by one-tenth of a point, averaging a 3.0/8 (7.5 million) for the night to finish fourth. Faced with competition from “Grey’s” and college basketball, “The Office” scored a 3.9/10 (8 million) to rank as the second highest-rated show of the night. Last night’s episode, however, was the lowest-rated of the season. New episodes of “My Name Is Earl” (2.4/8, 6.4 million), “30 Rock” (3.2/8, 7 million) and “ER” (3.3/9, 9.5 million) were about average. A repeat special of “The Office” aired at 8:30 p.m.

On The CW, “Smallville” (1.4/5, 3.3 million) was down two-tenths of a point from last week, while “Supernatural” (1.2/3, 3.1 million) was up a tick. The network averaged a 1.3/4 (3.2 million) and a 1.2/4 among women 18-34.

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