North Carolina-Duke is Most-Watched College Basketball Game of the Season Across Any Network

BasketballCollege Basketball - Men's

North Carolina-Duke is Most-Watched College Basketball Game of the Season Across Any Network

  • Seventh Consecutive Year ESPN has Aired Most-Watched Game Across All Networks
  • Industry-leading TV Schedule Reached More than 104 Million Fans, By Far the Most of Any Other Network

The Tobacco Road matchup between then-No. 9 UNC and No. 5 Duke (Saturday, March 3, 8:15 p.m. ET), delivered a Nielsen audience of 3,369,000 viewers, making the historic college basketball rivalry the most-viewed game of the season across all cable and broadcast networks. As a result, ESPN has aired the most-viewed college basketball matchup of the regular season for seven consecutive years.

Overall, ESPN aired four of the top seven most-watched games and, combined with ESPN2, aired the top 156 games on cable this season. Across its entire industry-leading schedule, ESPN and its networks reached 104,578,000 fans, 19% greater than the next best network.

Additional Season Highlights

  • College GameDay Covered by State Farm averaged 666,000 viewers, up four percent from last year’s seven-show slate.
  • 16 Years at No. 1: For the 16th consecutive year, Louisville remains the No. 1 local market for college hoops with a 4.2 local rating, claiming the top spot every single year that ESPN has tracked the date. Kansas City comes in second (2.6 rating), followed by Raleigh-Durham (2.3 rating), Greensboro-High Point (2.1 rating) and Cincinnati (1.7 rating).
Rank Market Rating
1 Louisville 4.2
2 Kansas City 2.6
3 Raleigh-Durham 2.3
4 Greensboro-High Point 2.1
5 Cincinnati 1.7
6 Charlotte 1.6
Indianapolis 1.6
8 Knoxville 1.5
Nashville 1.4
Norfolk-Portsmth-N. Nws 1.4
11 Richmond 1.3
12 Birmingham 1.2

Champ Week
ESPN’s Champ Week continues with coverage of several conference championships, including the ACC, Big 12, Ivy League, SEC and West Coast. Games will air across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and SEC Network. A complete schedule is available here.

Champ Week will culminate on Selection Sunday (March 11), beginning with College GameDay at 11 a.m. on ESPN. The Ivy League championship game tips off at noon on ESPN2, followed by the SEC Tournament championship game (1 p.m., ESPN) and the Sun Belt title game (2 p.m., ESPN2). Studio coverage continues with a one-hour Bubble Watch (4 p.m., ESPN2), with host Cotter and analysts Crean, Dakich and Ellis. SportsCenter will also provide coverage from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. as the bracket for the NCAA Men’s Tournament is revealed. A two-hour Bracketology will begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN, as the GameDay crew discusses the NCAA Tournament bracket selections. Selection Sunday coverage will conclude with another Bracketology at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. The NIT Selection Show will be televised on ESPNU at 8:30 p.m.



Anna Negron

It was always a dream of mine to work at ESPN, and here I am! I joined the College Sports PR team in March 2016. Hailing from the great Garden State, I graduated from Seton Hall University (Go Pirates!) with a degree in sport management, where I not only sang the National Anthem at games, but was also a member of the Seton Hall Sapphires Dance Team and a student reporter for Pirate Sports Network. Before joining ESPN, I served as a Public Relations Associate for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
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