The Zion Effect Is In Full Effect As Tourney Ratings Soar

The Zion Effect continues to help the NCAA break ratings records.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship continues to deliver strong numbers across all platforms largely because of Zion Williamson’s huge impact on the sport.

Live game coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is averaging a 6.7/15 HH rating/share in the metered markets, up 8 % over last year and tied for the third-highest rating through the Regional Finals in 26 years.


This weekend’s Regional Finals across TBS and CBS (7.2/15) generated the second highest-rating for the Elite Eight since 2011, with increases across all four game windows:

Sunday’s Michigan State/Duke game (10.5/21) produced the highest metered market delivery for the game window in 14 years, up 4% vs. 2018.  

The 68-67 thriller was every bit the classic that fans anticipated and the energy of Zion’s presence combined with some fresh Final Four faces (Auburn, Virginia, Texas Tech), energized interest in the entire weekend’s telecasts.


Sunday’s Auburn upset of Kentucky (+15%), Saturday’s Virginia/Purdue classic (+14%) and Texas Tech’s shocker over Gonzaga (+2%) all showed major boosts from last year’s same coverage.

NCAA March Madness Live has set all-time records in live streams and live hours of consumption for the NCAA Tournament to date, with both seeing increases of 30% or more through the Regional Finals.  

MML has also set daily records in live hours (eight times) and live streams (five times).

These increases are undoubtedly by-products of Zion and Duke’s celebrity impact on college hoops this season.

With Zion and Duke out of the Tournament, expect ratings to drop significantly for the Final Four. This is definitely not what the NCAA wanted, losing its cash cow before the NCAA title game

For those who doubt that Zion is the cause of the ratings increase — and a social media rush on college hoops that has led to Official NCAA March Madness social accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) experiencing a 117% increase in engagements to date through Sunday —  just wait until the ratings return for the Final Four and National Championship games.


They will tell the story of Zion’s impact on the tournament.

Even the Duke haters who prayed and prayed for the Blue Devils’ downfall, will regret having to watch a Final Four without Zion Williamson. There won’t be another college player as impactful or lucrative as him for a long time and the proof is in the numbers.

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