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Hulu, Paramount+ Help Up NCAA ‘Final Four’ Basketball Tournament Games to Highest Viewership in Five Years

The increasing distribution of live sports on subscription streaming video platforms is paying off in the ratings game. New data from Nielsen found that the April 3 “Final Four” thrilling victory by the University of North Carolina Tarheels over archrival Duke University in the semifinal of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament generated 16.3 million viewers on WarnerMedia’s TBS, TNT and TruTV cable networks, in addition to Hulu, Paramount+, Sling TV and YouTube TV streaming platforms.

That was the highest viewership for a Final Four game since 2017. In addition to contesting the first ever matchup in the men’s NCAA tournament between the legendary rivals, the game also featured retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in his final game.

The tally is expected to grow after including out-of-home viewership.

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The other semifinal game, which saw the University of Kansas beat Villanova University April 2, averaged 10.3 million viewers, which was up 21% from the 2021 Saturday matchup between Baylor University and the University of Houston with 8.1 million viewers.

Last year’s Final Four matchup between UCLA and Gonzaga University attracted almost 15 million viewers on TV and alternative platforms.

Meanwhile, the numbers still pale from the 2015 semifinal matchup between the University of Wisconsin and University of Kentucky that was viewed by more than 22 million people.

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