<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-P36XLWQ" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

March Madness opening round nets 8.4m viewers in eight-year high

NCAA men's basketball tournament sees viewership increase by 2% YoY across CBS Sports, TBS, TNT and TruTV.

20 March 2023 Rory Jones

Getty Images

The opening round of March Madness drew an average of 8.4 million domestic viewers, setting an eight-year high for the US-based National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament.


  • Viewership was up two per cent year-over-year (YoY) across Paramount-owned CBS, and Warner Bros Discovery’s TBS, TNT and TruTV channels – delivering the highest average since 2015
  • Early primetime window averaged 10.16 million viewers per-game, with Auburn’s win over Iowa reaching 3.44 million on TNT, the highest audience of the four fixtures in that window
  • Late primetime window viewership increased by 11 per cent YoY, delivering an average of 8.5 million viewers
  • Louisiana v Tennessee game on CBS reached 3.48 million viewers, the highest for any late primetime matchups
  • Early afternoon slot was up 15 per cent on 2022 to reach 6.8 million average viewers
  • First Four play-in games averaged 5.41 million viewers on TruTV, down 21 per cent YoY


The opening round of the NCAA’s flagship men’s basketball tournament delivered a higher audience average than that of this year’s Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star game and the National Football League’s (NFL) revamped Pro Bowl Games, which drew viewership of 7.5 million and 6.3 million respectively.

The University of Kansas’ win in last year’s men’s NCAA basketball final generated 18.1 million viewers on Turner Sports, marking the highest audience ever for the March Madness final on pay-TV.

Coming next:

After seeing an uptick in viewership during the opening rounds of March Madness, the NCAA will be hopeful of carrying this momentum into the latter stages of the competition, with the ‘Sweet 16’ round set to tip off on 23rd March.

1 / 2news articles read

Enjoying SportsPro content? Create your account and get enhanced access to all the latest stories.


Already have an account?