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NCAA basketball on CBS proves too much for 'American Idol' in weekly ratings matchup

April 5, 2011 |  6:07 pm

Ncaahoops Fox may have had the week’s most-watched show with “American Idol,” but that wasn’t quite enough to stop a CBS powered by college hoops and “NCIS.”

Wednesday’s “Idol” was the No. 1 program for the week ending Sunday, with 24.2 million tuning in, according to the Nielsen Co. Monday’s “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC was the runner-up (22.8 million).

But CBS pulled out a double win in both total viewers and the critical adults aged 18 to 49 demographic, thanks in large part to Saturday’s NCAA basketball semifinal between Kentucky and Connecticut. With the game, CBS averaged a big 16 million viewers on a sleepy weekend night that normally does little TV business.

The NCAA hoops tournament — shared among CBS and three Turner networks — delivered the highest ratings since 2005 in the top TV markets.

CBS rode to victory on more than just sports, though. The network also had the three most-watched scripted programs for the week with the crime dramas “NCIS” (18.7 million), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (15.3 million) and “The Mentalist” (14.3 million).

Two new shows delivered solid starts: ABC’s procedural “Body of Proof” with Dana Delany (13.9 million) and Fox’s reality special “Mobbed” with Howie Mandel (10.8 million), the latter of which was ordered into an eight-episode series. But CBS’ Friday spy caper “Chaos” opened soft, with just 6.5 million.

Overall, CBS averaged 11.8 million viewers, trailed by ABC (9.4 million), Fox (8.3 million) and NBC (5.4 million).

Tops on basic cable was Saturday’s live telecast of the Kids Choice Awards on Nickelodeon (7.3 million).


Meredith Vieira may exit NBC's "Today"

— Scott Collins (

Photo: Brandon Knight of Kentucky (No. 12) in Saturday's NCAA game against UConn. Credit: Getty Images.