TV Ratings: March Madness starts slow as ‘Scandal,’ ‘American Idol’ pace Thursday split

Fast National ratings for Thursday, March 20, 2014.

Second Round coverage from the NCAA Tournament got off to a slow start for CBS, allowing “Scandal”-driven ABC to win the night among young viewers, while “American Idol” helped FOX eke out an overall win.

For “Scandal” it was a good week, as a big cliffhanger and the lack of “Elementary” competition led to a small bump. The news was less good for “American Idol,” which fell below a 2.0 rating in the key demo.

Without CBS' in the mix, both “Community” and “Parks and Recreation” made rare visits above the 3 million viewer mark, while “Parenthood” rose above 4 million.

On to the numbers…

Among adults 18-49, ABC averaged a 2.0 rating for Thursday night, edging out FOX's 1.8 rating in the key demographic. CBS and NBC tied for a distant third with a 1.1 key demo rating, ahead of the 0.9 key demo rating for The CW.

Overall, FOX averaged an estimated 6.83 million viewers for Thursday primetime along with a 4.2 rating/7 share, nipping ABC's 6.8 million viewers, which came with a 4.7/8. CBS was third for the night with a 2.5/4 and 3.75 million viewers, followed by NBC's 2.2/4 and 3.47 million. The CW averaged 1.935 million viewers and a 1.2/2 for the night.

8 p.m. – “Hell's Kitchen” actually won the 8 p.m. hour for FOX with 5.3 million viewers and a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49, ahead of the 4.43 million viewers and 1.2 key demo rating for CBS' NCAA Tournament coverage. ABC's “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” was third with 3.5 million viewers and fifth with a 0.8 key demo rating. NBC was fourth overall and third in the key demo with “Community” (3.46 million viewers and a 1.1 key demo) and “Parks and Recreation” (3.09 million and a 1.2 key demo rating). The CW's “The Vampire Diaries” was fifth with 2.235 million viewers and fourth with a 1.1 key demo rating

9 p.m. – “American Idol” won the 9 p.m. hour overall for FOX with 8.365 million viewers, but finished second with a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, compared to the 7.97 million viewers and 2.4 key demo rating for ABC's “Grey's Anatomy.” CBS' basketball coverage slipped to 3.22 million viewers and a 1.0 key demo rating, only barely topping the 2.95 million viewers and 0.9 key demo rating for NBC's repeat of “Hollywood Game Night.” The CW's “Reign” averaged 1.635 million viewers and a 0.7 key demo rating.

10 p.m. – “Scandal” rose to 8.92 million viewers and a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49, leading ABC to 10 p.m. wins in both measures. NBC's “Parenthood” averaged 4.18 million viewers for second and tied for second with a 1.2 key demo rating. CBS' basketball also did a 1.2 key demo rating and averaged 3.61 million viewers.

All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change, particularly in the case of live events.