NDSU-Duke game draws about 6.2 million TV viewers

North Dakota State Bison guard Chris Quayle (13) is guarded by Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) and forward RJ Barrett (5) during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports
North Dakota State Bison guard Chris Quayle (13) is guarded by Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) and forward RJ Barrett (5) during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

FARGO - North Dakota State's basketball team lost to top-seeded Duke by 23 points in the NCAA tournament, but the Bison had a winning number in a different area: Television viewers.

Duke's Zion Williamson dunks the ball against North Dakota State's Rocky Kreuser during Friday night's first round of the NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.   Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports
Duke's Zion Williamson dunks the ball against North Dakota State's Rocky Kreuser during Friday night's first round of the NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

The Bison's 85-62 loss against the Blue Devils and star player Zion Williamson averaged about 6.2 million viewers on Friday, March 22, making it the most-watched NDSU sporting event in history.

Those numbers come courtesy of the Nielsen Company, which measures ratings for television networks, as reported by the web site tvbythenumbers.com.

North Dakota State Bison forward Rocky Kreuser (34) and guard Chris Quayle (13) and Duke Blue Devils forward Javin DeLaurier (12) battle for the ball during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports
North Dakota State Bison forward Rocky Kreuser (34) and guard Chris Quayle (13) and Duke Blue Devils forward Javin DeLaurier (12) battle for the ball during the second half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

The figures only include over-the-air viewing and not streaming numbers, which the NCAA said are up more than 25 percent through the first full week.

The TV viewership nearly triples the TV ratings of NDSU's 2015 NCAA game against Gonzaga, which was viewed by an estimated average of 2.1 million people on TNT. The game against the Bulldogs held the previous record for most-watched NDSU game.

It also far outstrips any of the Bison's Football Championship Subdivision games televised by the ESPN networks. NDSU's most-watched football game was its 2016 quarterfinal playoff matchup against South Dakota State, which drew an estimated average audience of 1.984 million viewers on ESPN.

North Dakota State Bison guard Vinnie Shahid (0) goes up for a shot against the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Jeff Blake / USA TODAY Sports
North Dakota State Bison guard Vinnie Shahid (0) goes up for a shot against the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Jeff Blake / USA TODAY Sports