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By Bruce Haring
Some of college basketball’s most storied programs were in action Friday night, and their appeal lit up the ratings, easily outdistancing the rest of the programming.
The CBS television broadcasts of regional action drew a 2.1 in demos and 9.14 million in total viewership among the 18-49 crowd. The excitement was no doubt driven by a season of upsets, as top-ranked teams like Gonzaga and Arizona have both fallen by the wayside already.
Overall, the NCAA men’s ratings are up 12% for the first two rounds in 2022 vs. 2021, according to CBS and Turner, which are handling the action. The games are averaging more than 9 million viewers per timeslot. That makes the average viewership the highest through two rounds in five years.

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The most-watched game of the tournament so far is Duke’s second-round win over Michigan State. That drew more than 11 million viewers. This weekend, the field narrows, and the eyes of the nation will turn to Cinderella team Saint Peter’s of New Jersey, which has stunned the world with its upsets. The No. 15 seed takes the court again Sunday against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Elsewhere, ABC had a new Shark Tank come in with an 0.4, as Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Barbera Corcoran and guest judge Emma Grede sliced and diced the entrepreneurs brought before them. The provided a strong lead-in for newsmag 20/20, which examined the murder on an Air Force base.
Perennial ratings leader WWE Friday Night SmackDown on Fox held its own, bringing in an 0.4 and retaining its audience level. The biggest match of the night was Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns’ dressing room.
NBC had a new Blacklist after a brief hiatus, bringing in an 0.2, which newsmag Dateline scoring an 0.3 for yet another look at a mysterious murder.
All of that left little for The CW, as both Charmed and Dynasty had an 0.1 on the night.
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