Ratings Roundup: Tourney, Tiger Woods Make For Huge Sports Weekend
By: Jason Dachman, Managing Editor
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 9:00 am

Heading into Final Four weekend, coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is down 5% from last year. The combined coverage on CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV has averaged a combined 5.7 rating, down from a 6.0 last year (the debut of the CBS-Turner Sports rights deal that allows every game to be televised in full), but up 6% from 2010 (5.4) when CBS alone carried the tournament. The 5.7 rating is the second-highest average for the NCAA Tournament through the Elite Eight since 2006, trailing only last year…

…One likely reason for the Tourney’s ratings dip was the resurgence of Tiger Woods at the Arnold Palmer invitational last weekend. The once-dominant Woods won his first tournament in more than 2 ½ years, driving NBC to a season-high PGA Golf rating. Saturday’s Third Round coverage of the event averaged a 2.7/7 with 4 million viewers, up 50% over last year. Sunday’s Final Round action posted a 4.3/9 with 6.5 million viewers, up 126% over last year’s 1.9/4 to rank as the highest rating for the event since 2009.

…Meanwhile, IndyCar failed to draw many eyeballs away from either event as the season opener in St. Petersburg drew just a 1.1 overnight rating on ABC on Sunday. That is down from a 1.2 overnight for last year’s opener…

…NASCAR also struggled as a result of the strong competition, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 from Fontana drew a 3.8 final rating and 6.153 million viewers on FOX, down 17% in ratings and 24% in viewership from the same race last year (4.6, 8.080M). The 3.8 rating is the lowest for the Auto Club 500 since at least 1998 (ratings prior to 1999 were not available). The previous thirteen-year low was a 4.2 in 2000. So far this season, four of the first five Sprint Cup races on FOX have suffered declines in ratings and viewership compared to last year…

ESPN managed to put up a 2.4 overnight rating for the Heat/Thunder NBA regular season game on Sunday night despite the stiff compeition. That is tied as the highest NBA overnight of the lockout-shortened season on ESPN. Later in the night, Grizzlies/Lakers drew a 2.0 overnight. Final ratings were not yet available.

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