TV Ratings: NCAA Sweet 16 leads CBS Thursday, while ‘Vampire Diaries’ stumbles

Fast National ratings for Thursday, March 27, 2014.

While still coming in far below the normal standards set by CBS' Thursday lineup, NCAA Sweet 16 coverage at least helped CBS win the night in all measures, though with live events it's hard to tell which of two games was a big draw, etc. 

It was yet another lackluster week for “American Idol,” which dropped in viewers and was flat in the key demo, making it now nearly even with “Hell's Kitchen.” “Idol” was a good enough lead-in to help “Surviving Jack” get FOX's biggest overall comedy audience since the Super Bowl, though the Chris Meloni show's demo numbers were on par with the network's normal Tuesday sitcom sluggishness. 

ABC's entire lineup was up in the key demo, including “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” though the low ratings for that soon-to-end drama were the reason ABC didn't win the night. “Parenthood” also got a small bump with two hours of “Hollywood Game Night” outdrawing the network's usual comedies.

Meanwhile, The CW's “The Vampire Diaries” was significantly down from last week and only barely topped “Reign.” I don't have an explanation for that, but it's a 36 percent drop and a new series low. 

On to the numbers…

Among adults 18-49, CBS averaged a 2.5 rating for Thursday night, beating ABC's 2.2 rating in the key demographic. FOX was third with a 1.7 key demo rating, followed by NBC's 1.2 key demo rating. The CW did a 0.7 key demo rating for the night.

Overall, CBS averaged an estimated 7.79 million viewers and a 5.0 rating/8 share for Thursday primetime. ABC was second with 6.76 million viewers and a 4.6/8, ahead of FOX's 5.89 million and 3.6/6. NBC's 2.8/5 and 4.25 million viewers were good for fourth, while The CW averaged 1.61 million viewers and a 1.1/2.

8 p.m. – CBS' basketball coverage started the night in first with 7.63 million viewers and a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49. FOX's “Hell's Kitchen” was second with 5.25 million viewers and a 1.8 key demo rating. NBC's “Hollywood Game Night” averaged 4.64 million viewers and a 1.2 key demo rating for third, beating the 3.3 million viewers and 0.9 key demo rating for ABC's “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.” The CW's “The Vampire Diaries” averaged only 1.71 million viewers and a 0.7 key demo rating. [Last week's “TVD” Fast Nationals were 2.235 million and a 1.0 key demo. No clue.]

9 p.m. – Sweet 16 coverage gave CBS narrow wins in the 9 p.m. hour, averaging 8.54 million viewers and a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49. ABC's “Grey's Anatomy” averaged 8.13 million viewers and a 2.5 key demo rating for second. FOX followed with “American Idol” (7.94 million and a 1.9 key demo) and the premiere of “Surviving Jack” (5.115 million and a 1.3 key demo). A “Hollywood Game Night” repeat averaged 3.73 million viewers and a 1.1 key demo rating on NBC, followed by the 1.51 million viewers and 0.6 key demo rating for “Reign” on The CW.

10 p.m. – ABC won the 10 p.m. hour with 8.84 million viewers and a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49 for “Scandal,” which moved the network ahead of the 7.21 million viewers and 2.5 key demo rating for CBS' basketball coverage. NBC's “Parenthood” averaged 4.39 million viewers and a 1.4 key demo rating.

[UPDATE: In Final Live+Same Day figures, “Hell's Kitchen” ticked up to a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, tying with “American Idol.” You can decide how that good news/bad news balance should be interpreted. “The Vampire Diaries” rose to a 0.8 key demo rating and a 1.73 million viewers, but that's still really low and while “Reign” held onto its 0.6 key demo rating, it dropped under 1.4 million viewers. “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” and “Grey's Anatomy” both added 0.1 in the key demo.]

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.