Virginia’s thrilling, 85-77 victory over Texas Tech in overtime during last night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game averaged 19.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s a 23% increase over last year’s final on TNT and TBS, which historically draws a smaller audience than CBS’, but a 15% drop compared to CBS’ final in 2017.
The entire tournament was an ad revenue windfall for both CBS and Turner. The tournament attracted an estimated $933 million in ad revenue, according to estimates from ad measurement firm iSpot.tv. Approximately 12% of that overall ad spend, or $114 million, came from Monday’s national championship game alone.
Top spending brands throughout the entire tournament were AT&T Wireless (which ran 17 different spots a total of 282 times, for an estimated ad spend of $68.0 million), Buick (two spots, 137 airings; $42.5 million ad spend), Geico (five spots, 183 airings; $36.4 million), Capital One credit card (five spots, 122 airings; $31.6 million) and Progressive (five spots, 123 airings; $27.9 million).
Overall, tournament ratings averaged 10.5 million viewers across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, an 8% increase. NCAA March Madness live also set new records, as livestreams were up by 31% and live hours consumed increased 29%.