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March Madness off to fast start on both linear, digital platforms

March Madness is off to a fast start with viewers, setting a new record on the digital side and scoring the highest first-weekend ratings since 2015.

Through March 25, live coverage of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship across CBS (US), TBS (US), TNT (US) and truTV (US) averaged a 6.4 rating in the metered market, according to data from Nielsen Holdings PLC. That compares to a 6.7 metered mark hit in 2015, the highest first-weekend ratings for the tournament in its current format, which dates to 1991. The 2019 delivery also represented an 8% amelioration over the 5.9 metered average at the corresponding stage of the tournament last year.

Digital platform March Madness Live set an all-time record for the number of live hours and hours of consumption, registering gains of more than 25% through the first full week of the event.

Tournament favorite Duke's one-point win over UCF on March 25 boosted ratings overall, as it drove the third-game window on Sunday to a 35% jump to an 11.9 metered rating, up from an 8.8 tally in the same window a year ago. That was the second-highest rating for that window over the past 29 years, trailing only the 12.1 rating in 2017.