Duke-Wisconsin Nail-Biter Draws 28.3 Million Viewers

Biggest Tune-in for NCAA Hoops Title Tilt in 18 Years

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Credit: NCAA

In winning his fifth NCAA Men's basketball title in 25 years, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Monday night helped CBS secure its biggest national championship ratings in nearly two decades.

Duke's come-from-behind 68-63 win over the Badgers of Wisconsin drew 28.3 million viewers, up 33% from last year's 21.3 million, and now stands as the most-watched title tilt since 1997. (While a national audience of 28.4 million CBS viewers held their collective breath that year, Arizona toppled Kentucky in overtime by a 84-79 margin.)

The Duke-Wisconsin showdown also delivered an average household rating of 16.0, up 28% from last year's 12.4 rating. By comparison, basketball's other marquee event, the deciding contest in the 2014 NBA Finals drew a 10.3 rating on ABC. (For the uninitiated, a 1.0 household rating is equal to 1% of the country's 116.4 million TV homes.)

All told, the 2015 edition of March Madness is the most-watched NCAA tourney in 22 years, averaging 11.3 million total viewers on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV.

The going rate for a 30-second spot in last night's broadcast was just north of $1.5 million a pop, nearly triple the asking price for a single unit in the 2014 NBA Finals ($520,000). Since CBS and Turner took joint custody of March Madness back in 2011, the tourney has generated some $4.13 billion in ad revenue, per Kantar Media estimates.

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