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March Madness: Opening Day draws biggest TV audience in eight years

March Madness opening day draws its largest television audience in EIGHT years with 8.4 million viewers tuning in… surpassing the 6.3 million who watched the NFL Pro Bowl in February

The first day of March Madness was watched by a whopping 8.4 million people – that’s the biggest TV audience in eight years.

CBS Sports, TBS, TNT and truTV aired the first college basketball game on Thursday, with audiences up 2 percent from last year, according to receiving sports.

The 2022 MLB All-Star Game on Fox Sports was reportedly watched by 7.5 million, while the NFL’s redesigned Pro Bowl in February drew just 6.3 million viewers.

Thursday’s premiere also recorded its most-watched afternoon slot of all time, as broadcasts drew an average of 6.8 million viewers. That number was a 15 percent increase from last season.

Furman’s last-minute victory over No. 4 seed Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament surely only helped.

Furman kicked off the March Madness by causing the first upset by defeating Virginia.

A historic shot gave the Paladins their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1974 on Thursday.

A historic shot gave the Paladins their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1974 on Thursday.

The men’s and women’s select shows on CBS and ESPN on Sunday also drew more viewers than in 2022.

An average of 5.1 million fans tuned in to the men’s version, an increase of three percent over last season’s edition.

While the women’s show drew 1.27 million people, an 18 percent increase in the number of people who watched it last year on Monday nights.

The No. 13 seed Furman handed Virginia another loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 68-67 on Thursday.

JP Pegues made a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining to help Furman complete a rally from a 12-point second-half deficit.

Making their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 43 years, the Paladins (28-7) advanced to the second round in the South Region, where they play San Diego State today.