Zion Effect Inspires Record March Madness Ratings

The Zion Effect continues to drive March Madness as NCAA tournament ratings are up 8 percent.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NCAA Tournament continues to deliver strong numbers across all platforms.

Once Sunday’s NCAA Tournament games were done, the uncontainable legend of Zion Williamson intensified. The Duke freshman and center of the college basketball universe delivered a tournament performance fit-for-framing in a 77-76 win over UCF. The combination of Zion’s infectious peronality, NBA talent and marketability produced the second highest-rated Sunday third game in 29 years.



Sunday’s third game telecast window, highlighted by the Duke-UCF gem was up +35%  from last year’s comparable window. 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 more than 25% through the first full week.

The Zion Effect combined with the real possibility of an historical UCF upset sent folks dashing to their various media platforms to capture the moment. They weren’t disappointed as the “8th Wonder the World” hit a clutch AND 1 against UCF’s 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall to seal the win and advance Duke into the Elite 8.

The energy and interest Zion infuses into the NCAA Tournament is evident. Overall, live game coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is averaging a 6.4/15 HH rating/share in the metered markets, the second-highest rating through the first weekend since 1991, when the NCAA Tournament expanded to its current television format (6.7/14 in 2015).

The 6.4/15 HH rating, based on Nielsen metered market delivery, is up 8% over last year (5.9/13).

Official NCAA March Madness social accounts have produced a 56% lift in engagements vs. last year’s Tournament to date through Sunday (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

What can Turner and CBS Sports say other than thank you Zion.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.