When Butler and VCU were paired together in the Final Four, many thought it would be a ratings nightmare for CBS. After all, everyone loves a giant-killer, but part of the appeal is watching these mid-majors try to slay the beast, and upset a major conference foe in the NCAA Tournament. But when you put them together, even in the Final Four, it creates a match that’s lacking on paper, without a major media market to speak of.
According to the AP, Saturday night’s Final Four ratings were the highest since 2005 as viewers tuned in to see both the Butler vs. VCU and Kentucky vs. UConn.
Butler’s 70-62 win over Virginia Commonwealth in the first game drew an 8.3 rating and averaged 14.2 million viewers while Connecticut’s 56-55 win over Kentucky in the second game drew a 9.5 rating and pulled in 16.7 million viewers.
Who says the little guys can’t pull eyeballs. While it’s not quite the level UConn and Kentucky received, Butler and VCU held their own in the ratings war, and CBS benefited.
Ratings for the tournament as a whole are up, as well, in the first year March Madness has been broadcast across two different networks. CBS and Turner split the early round coverage, with every single game shown on network television as Turner roped in TBS, TNT and truTV to help out.
Butler and UConn take the court in Houston for the NCAA Championship Game on Monday night, live on CBS. For more on Saturday’s games, check out our 2011 Final Four StoryStream.