Duke's victory over Wisconsin Monday night in the NCAA men's basketball championship game averaged 28.3 million viewers, the highest such figure for the event since 1997, when Arizona defeated Kentucky in the final.
Viewership peaked at 33.4 million between 11 and 11:15 p.m.
Kentucky's loss to Wisconsin in Saturday's semifinals was expected to hurt ratings for the final, and perhaps it did. A Duke-Kentucky showdown likely would have exceeded 30 million average viewers.
Still, CBS had to be happy with the performance of the final championship game of its 34-year run carrying the game. In 2016 TBS will televise the entire Final Four. It returns to CBS in 2017.
Surprisingly, the basketball final averaged only 5 million fewer viewers than the inaugural College Football Playoff championship between Oregon and Ohio State on ESPN in January.