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Sunday spike: NCAA TV audiences increase for CBS, Turner

Last Updated Mar 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm EDT

South Carolina guard Kaela Davis (3) celebrates at the conclusion of a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Arizona State on Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina defeated Arizona State 71-68. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

CBS Sports and Turner Sports say viewership for the first Sunday of the NCAA Tournament, which was packed with close games and marquee teams, was up 34 per cent over last year’s Sunday second-round coverage.

The networks announced Monday that the eight games aired Sunday on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV averaged 11.9 million viewers. Last year’s Sunday second-round games drew 8.9 million viewers.

Sunday’s games featured some of the college basketball’s most notable power programs: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA and Kansas. Six of the eight games played were decided by seven points or fewer, with South Carolina upsetting Duke in prime time.

Overall, viewership for the tournament is up 10 per cent from last year at an average of 9.325 million over the first four days and has been the most-watched in 24 years, CBS and Turner said.

This is the seventh year of the partnership between the two networks that has allowed all the game to be televised nationally.

The networks also said the first weekend of the tournament was streamed on March Madness Live more than ever before with 69.1 million live streams, an increase of 24 per cent over last year.

The games with the most live streams have been: Notre Dame vs. Princeton (5.4 million streams), which was the first game to tip-off Thursday afternoon; Virginia vs. UNC-Wilmington (4.3 million streams on Thursday afternoon); and Michigan vs. Oklahoma State (4.2 million), the first game to tip-off Friday.

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