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Gonzaga contributes to highly watched Final Four

UPDATED: Sun., April 2, 2017, 7:15 p.m.

Gonzaga fans cheer on the team at Scotty’s Bar in Spokane on Saturday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga fans cheer on the team at Scotty’s Bar in Spokane on Saturday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The only regret felt by the network executives and CBS Sports and Turner Sports? It isn’t sweeps week.

The ratings are in for Saturday’s Final Four games and they’re up drastically over previous years. Gonzaga’s win over South Carolina and North Carolina’s win over Oregon averaged 16.8 million viewers and yielded an overnight rating of 10.4/21, up 37 percent over last year.

That 10.4/21 figure is the second highest for a Final Four since CBS/Turner first partnered up in 2011.

Saturday’s close games, decided by a combined five points, were part of the reason for this year’s numbers. Last year’s doubleheader featured a pair of blowouts that were decided by 61 points combined.

Still, the overnight numbers are likely a relief to network executives worried about a dearth of national brand teams in the Final Four, with UNC being the only regular Final Four attendee.

Gonzaga’s game against Xavier earlier in the tournament was the lowest-rated Elite Eight game in 20 years.

But Saturday’s matchup against the Gamecocks proved to be quite the draw. It delivered ratings of 9.3/20, up 31 percent from last year’s early game.

More fans are also tuning in on mobile devices. About 5.2 million people streamed the games using March Madness Live, an increase of 84 percent over last year.

Last year’s title game between UNC and Villanova was the lowest-rated championship game, with a rating of just 10.6. But this year all eyes will be on Glendale, Arizona, for the championship game between the Zags and Tar Heels.

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