No shining moment
CBS sets record low ratings for NCAA finals
Posted: Tuesday April 04, 2000 07:17 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- It was not a shining moment for CBS.
The national rating for Monday night's NCAA men's basketball tournament championship game between Michigan State and Florida was 14.1, the worst since the network began airing the event in 1982.
It represents a drop of 18 percent from last year's title-game rating of 17.2, the previous low.
The tournament as a whole finished with an average rating of 6.4, down 6 percent from 1999's 6.8, also the previous low mark.
It wasn't good news for CBS, which agreed in November to retain the rights for the three-week tournament by paying $6 billion for an 11-year contract, which takes effect in 2003.
Michigan State's 89-76 victory over Florida drew a 23 share -- representing the percentage of in-use television sets tuned to a particular show -- down from the 27 garnered by Connecticut's upset of Duke a year ago.
The ratings -- the percentage of the nation's estimated 100.8 million TV homes tuned to a telecast -- are the latest in a string of declining numbers for basketball broadcasts.
Ratings were also off this year for the women's NCAA tourney on ESPN -- No. 1 Connecticut's 71-52 drubbing of No. 2 Tennessee in the title game showed a 19 percent decline from last year's final -- and for the cable outfit's regular-season men's college broadcasts.
And NBC's coverage of the NBA has averaged a 3.5 rating through 27 games, a 19 percent drop from the 4.3 pulled in on average by the 28 regular-season games shown last year.
The women's final Sunday night drew a 3.5 national cable rating, compared to last year's record 4.3. The 14 tournament games shown on ESPN drew an average rating of 1.15, a fall of 14 percent from 1999's record 1.33, and the second-lowest in the five years the cable outfit has had the women's Final Four.
As with the men's final, the lopsided nature of the women's title game did not help the ratings.
"That rating for the 'UConn clinic' is sensational," Len DeLuca, ESPN senior VP for programming development, said. "That number, when there was every indication that it was over after the second television timeout, shows us that there is strong interest. The numbers were steady. It didn't grow at the rate to hit a home run rating that you would hope, but it is a solid foundation looking forward."