As noted in our upper left hand corner box, March Madness, generates an astonishingly amount of ad revenue each year, in 2014 alone it brought home $1.134 B! If March Madness (MM) was a nation with a GDP (purchasing power) of those $$ it would have the 204th biggest GDP in the world and nestled b/t the 203rd biggest GDP (Samoa at $1.145 B) and the nation with the current 204th biggest GDP in the world (Dominica at $1.015 B). The point being that 9.2% (25) of the world’s GDPs are less than MM. WOW!

  • March Madness’ tot ad $$ ($1.134 B) would pay for everyone’s tuition who attended last yr’s NCAA B-Ball Champ (U of Conn) and for another 007 yrs (assuming the entire student body [22,973] pd “in state” tuition [9,858]). On the other hand, it would ONLY give “heir apparent” U of Kty (with 22,441 students & in state tuition of $10,768) 4.912 yrs of pd tuitions.
  • Transformers 4’s global movie box office did $1.091 B in 2014 which means March Madness’ ad revenue was 9% greater than the biggest global box office movie for 2014.
  • In 2014 Forbes evaluated the CHI Cubs at $1.2 B (4th highest MLB franchise). March Madness is 5% of the Cubs’ value (The major diff is that there will always be a winner of March Madness).


  • $1.134 B is 41 times greater than total ad revenue from SB 2014 which included ALL pregame and postgame ad revenue, $.332 B.
  • The ad revenue from the last 4 Winter Olympics (Salt Lake City ’02 $1.038 B, Turin ’06 $0.999 B, Vancouver ’10 $0.878 B, & Sochi ’14 $1.050 B) were all less than March Madness, 2014, (Kantar Media).
  • The last 2 presidential elections generated TV ad spending (Obama/McCain ’08 $0.489 B, and Obama/Romney ’12 $0.924 B) that were less than March Madness. MM 2014 was 2% of those 2 elections’ ad spending, combined (Washington Post/CNN).
  • MM is greater than the NBA post-season (’14 $0.875 B), the MLB post-season (’14 $0.360 B), or the TV ad revenue for ALL of the NCAA Football Bowl Games, ’14 $0.201 B (Kantar Media/Biz Insider).
  • The ’14 MM revenue even exceeds one of FOX’s best years in television. In 2009 FOX had terrific ad revenue from American Idol, 40 episodes; 24, 24 episodes; and House, 24 The 2009 seasons of AM Idol, 24 and House each arguably were the best seasons of these extraordinary series. Together, we estimate that they generated $0.909 B for the entire season (Biz Insider referencing a Forbes’ article). March Madness is 24.8% greater than the yearly ad revenue from those blockbuster TV series.
  • In other advertising worlds, the media giant YouTube is estimated to reach an ad revenue of $1.13 B for the entire year of 2014. March Madness beats 12 mo of YouTube ad revenue in less than 20 days! WOW!


  • March Madness can even take on social media giant Twitter. For 2014, Twitter had global ad revenue of $0.950 B. MM is 4% greater than Twitter’s global rev.


  • March Madness cannot beat everyone however, the NFL post-season inched past MM (’14 $1.233 B, MM being 92% of the total NFL post season) and Facebook absolutely crushed MM bringing in nearly $12.5 B last year in global ad revenue!
  • Our advertising ‘Bracket-Buster’ for 2016 is the mobile app Snapchat. Currently Snapchat asks for $.750 B per day from advertisers and with that price tag they could double Facebook’s ’14 numbers in just over 1 mo of ads. WOW!

March Madness generated $7.5 B+ in ad revenue from 2005-2014. MM ad spending has more than doubled since 2005. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat…) have helped drive the interest for the “games” and opened more ways to advertise. Another helping hand to MM is that advances are being made in streaming (online and mobile). These advances are putting the “games” in the hands of each fan and increasing viewership (according to a recent CNBC guest the streaming audience increased 140% from 2012-13 and 40% from 2013 to ’14). The aforementioned TV ad revenue growth is noted in the table below showing 2 phases. Phase I from 2005-2010 includes the recession marred year of 2009. The growth b/t ’05 & ’10 totaled 30.1%. Phase II from 2010 to 2015 (estimated) is a much more aggressive growth of 84.75%. (2015 anticipates the same growth from ’14-’15 that was had from ’13-’14 [+1.52%] bringing 2015 to an ad revenue of $1.154 B. The 11 yr total then becomes a tidy sum of $8.520 B).

NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National TV Ad Spending*: 2005-2015
  Phase I (2005-2010)
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Ad Spend in $B $0.479 $0.504 $0.525 $0.648 $0.598 $0.623 30.10%
Phase II (2010-2015)
Year 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ad Spend in $B $0.623 $0.782 $1.095 $1.117 $1.134 $1.151 84.75%

The tournament traditionally has TV ads from 85-90 companies, and the Top 10 firms make up over 35% of the ad spending in 2014, the top spender of that group in 2014 was General Motors ($83.2 M), GM spent $21.3 M (57.3%) more than the 2nd place spender (AT&T).

Official NCAA Corporate Sponsors are: Allstate, AT&T, Bing, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Burger King, Capital One, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, FireHD, Infiniti, Lowe’s, LG, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese’s. Unilever, and UPS

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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