The most-watched NCAA Division I men's basketball championship game since 1999 helped CBS win the prime-time ratings race for the fifth consecutive week and 22nd time in the television season's 29 weeks.
Duke's 61-59 victory over Butler on April 5 averaged 23.94 million viewers, the most for any prime-time program between April 5 and Sunday, according to figures released Tuesday by the Nielsen Co.
Viewership was up 36% from the 17.65 million average for North Carolina's 89-72 victory over Michigan State in the 2009 championship game and was the highest since the 25.30 million average for the 1999 final between Connecticut and Duke.
The record average viewership for an NCAA men's basketball championship game remains at 35.11 million for NBC's coverage of the 1979 game between Michigan State and Indiana State, pitting future NBA legends Magic Johnson against Larry Bird.
CBS averaged 11.59 million viewers for its prime-time programming, which included eight of the week's 11 most-watched programs and the six most-watched scripted programs.
The two "American Idol" episodes on Fox finished third and fourth for the week, averaging 20.84 million and 20.17 million viewers — 15% and 17% less than similar episodes last season.
For the season, "Idol" is averaging 24.9 million viewers, 6% less than last season.