C'mon CBB, you cannot believe this!
The best teams get all the attention and ratings. And the best teams have the best players. And those players are Pro caliber.
Otherwise, D1AA, D2 and D3 (or FCS) would attract the same attention as D1 (or FBS) and that is absolutely not the case.
Absolutely. As I've said many times here, I have known Mike Aresco for years and he is the one that brokered the deals on the television side for CBS. When I ran Mega March Madness for Directv we would talk of what is the key to the tournament, what drives viewership and subscribers. The story lines are the upsets, how far certain teams go, but the players are interchangeable. That doesn't mean they don't have to be quality players, of course they do. But when Duke goes down in the first game, is everyone turning off the sets because Jabari Parker is out? Absolutely not.
Don't confuse my comments to suggest the talent doesn't have to be high, it does. However, the viewership is not dictated by INDIVIDUAL talent per se, but the collection of it. Teams get bumped all the time with great individual talent, or even great team talent, but the ratings hold.
The best teams DO NOT get all the ratings, by the way. A number of them do, but because of how the tournament is scheduled on television there is a bit of self selection going on, but doesn't always ring true.
Be careful of just looking at the Final Four ratings, too. It's not just the Final Four, though even a Final Four with Wichita State did extremely well, highest in 8 years. This past Final Four with "ratings juggernaut"
Wisconsin, higher still. Then go look at some of the earlier round games. Sure, Kentucky, etc pulls in high ratings, but so do many other games, especially those with great upsets.
If you do wish to use only championship games, I'd point you to Butler v Duke rating of 24 compared to UNC vs MSU 17.6 separated by one year. A Kentucky Utah did way better than a UCLA Florida. It's not always about the heavyweights, having one there is huge but the other can be several notches down because people want to see the surprise upsets as well.