Report: NCAA Tournament ratings show sharp decline for Elite Eight games
The ratings for this week’s Elite Eight games are in, and it’s not good news for the NCAA.
According to Sports Media Watch, two of the four Elite Eight games were the least-watched games in that round dating back to at least 2008.
Steep viewership declines for all four men's Elite Eight games:
— Gonzaga-USC and Houston-Oregon State were the two least-watched Elite Eight games as far back as my records go (2008)https://t.co/WgD11a2RRG
— Sports Media Watch (@paulsen_smw) March 31, 2021
It’s worth noting the NCAA Tournament had to use an unusual scheduling format this season. In past years, Elite Eight games would have taken place on Saturday and Sunday. But this season, they were played on a Sunday and Monday.
Still, the viewership decreases were harsh. According to the report, ratings for Michigan-UCLA were down 57 percent compared to Duke-Michigan State in 2019. That’s despite the Wolverines and Bruins playing a highly-competitive game that came down to the final shot.
This season’s Gonzaga-USC and Houston-Oregon State games marked the first time since 2008 that an Elite Eight game received fewer than six million viewers. Those games were watched by 5.4 million and 5.9 million people, respectively, according to Sports Media Watch.
According to Sportico’s Anthony Crupi, the NCAA Tournament as a whole is down 12 percent so far — which seems like good news in light of the much steeper decline on Elite Eight viewership.
All told, Elite 8 games were down 45% (6.16M vs 11.2M), which brings the overall tourney average to 3.37M, down 12% vs the analogous period in 2019 (3.85M). In light of the beating sports TV ratings have taken since the Great Restart, a 12% drop is still pretty sweet.
— Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi) March 31, 2021
The Final Four is set to take place on Saturday with Baylor-Houston in the first game and Gonzaga-UCLA in the night cap. The National Championship game is on Monday, April 5.