Baylor Bears ‘MaCio Teague # 31 wins a basket against Gonzaga Bulldogs’ Drew Timme # 2 in the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Andy Lyons | Getty Images
Gonzaga’s chance for history was dashed in the final game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament in 2021 when the Bulldogs lost their first game of the season to the Baylor Bears and audience numbers suffered.
The 2021 NCAA men’s basketball championship game drew an average of 16.9 million viewers CBS Sports on Monday a decrease of 14% compared to the 2019 game. The 2020 competition was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Baylor kept Gonzaga from going undefeated, beating the Bulldogs 86-70. A win would have crowned a perfect season for Gonzaga and would be the first time since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976 that a men’s program has remained undefeated.
This year’s game was the least-watched championship to air on CBS since the network began broadcasting the games in 1982. It’s also the lowest since then WarnerMedia Property Turner Sports aired the game in 2018 after CBS and Turner began rotating biennially in 2016. This game between Villanova and the University of Michigan drew approximately 16.5 million viewers.
CBS had approximately 19 million viewers for the championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech in 2019. This was a decrease from the 2017 game that featured the University of North Carolina and Gonzaga about 22 million Spectator.
In the men’s Final Four games in 2021, an average of 14.9 million viewers saw the Gonzaga UCLA Summer Beater on Saturday, and that game peaked at 18.8 million viewers. Baylor’s win over Houston drew 8.1 million viewers, a 37% decrease from the early 2019 semi-finals.
Last month, John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales and marketing at CBS Network, confirmed the decline in NCAA viewership during the pandemic. He mentioned that the network had put aside additional ad inventory for marketers, should the network fail to meet viewer goals.
“We’ll wait and see how the games develop, but we’ve put some inventory aside to take care of our advertisers if necessary,” said Bogusz.
Lexie Hull # 12 of the Stanford Cardinal blocks the shot from Aari McDonald # 2 of the Arizona Wildcats in the championship game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Alamodome on April 4, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas.
Ben Solomon | NCAA Photos | Getty Images
DisneyThe ESPN owned the women’s tournament in San Antonio. On Tuesday, the title game between Arizona and Stanford drew an average of 4 million viewers on Sunday, peaking at 5.9 million. The network said it was the most watched women’s competition since 2014.
Stanford defeated the Wildcats (54-53) to win its first NCAA women’s basketball title since 1992.
The network also reported solid numbers around the semi-finals. Stanford’s win over South Carolina drew an average of 1.6 million viewers, while the University of Connecticut’s loss to Arizona drew 2.6 million viewers, up 24% from the 2019 second semifinals.
Disney placed six women’s tournament games on its ABC network, the first time a broadcast network had broadcast women’s tournament games since 1995when CBS was broadcasting some contests.
The Iowa vs. Connecticut competition on March 27 was the highest rated of the games with 1.5 million viewers, followed by the Michigan-Baylor game with 1.2 million. The network said the Sweet 16 competitions, which aired on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2, averaged 918,000 viewers, up 67% from 2019.