Duke University’s win over the University of Wisconsin in the men’s college basketball championship game was the most-watched NCAA title game in 18 years.
The game on CBS, which Duke won 68-63 for its fifth championship, was seen by an average of 28.3 million viewers, according to a statement Tuesday from the broadcaster and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting unit, citing Nielsen data. The entire National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, shared between the CBS Corp. network and Time Warner’s TBS, TNT and truTV, was the most-watched in 22 years.
The audience was the biggest since 1997, when Arizona’s 84-79 win over Kentucky drew 28.4 million. Monday’s game also attracted 33 percent more fans than last year’s NCAA final, in which Connecticut beat Kentucky 60-54.
The Blue Devils and Badgers were tied 31-31 after a first half that featured 13 lead changes. With help from four freshman who combined for all 37 of Duke’s second-half points, the team used a 10-0 run to turn a 58-56 deficit into a 66-58 lead.
The audience peaked at 33.4 million late in the game, according to the statement.