NEW YORK – Even an NCAA championship matchup between two widely acknowledged as the best men's college basketball teams in the country wasn't enough to set the television world afire.
An estimated 16.92 million people watched Baylor win the national championship title by routing previously unbeaten Gonzaga on Monday, the Nielsen company said.
That's down nearly 14% from the 2019 title game between Virginia and Texas Tech. Last year's NCAA basketball tourney was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Viewership declines are hardly unusual in today's world. Awards show ratings have been cratering. Given that this year's NCAA football championship saw its ratings plummet 27% percent, the basketball ratings weren't half bad.
This was the first men’s Final Four with no teams from the Eastern time zone, where nearly half of the country’s television viewers are located.
Saturday's men's semifinal — already considered a classic — where Gonzaga beat UCLA in overtime on a last-second shot was seen live by just under 15 million people.
On Sunday, the women's NCAA championship, where Stanford edged Arizona, was seen by 4.08 million people, Nielsen said.
CBS handily won in the prime time ratings last week, averaging 6.1 million viewers. ABC had 3.8 million viewers, NBC had 3.7 million, Fox had 1.8 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Ion Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 940,000.