There 9.2 quintillion ways to complete a NCAA Tourney bracket. In 2015 only 9.3% of the 11.5 M brackets submitted on ESPN.com picked Duke to win it all. Last year’s NCAA men’s bball tournament reached its highest viewership in 22 yrs, with an avg 11.3 M total viewers (Nielsen). The Duke v Wisconsin championship matchup ranked as the highest rated champ game (28.3 M total viewers) since 1997’s matchup when Arizona beat Kentucky to win their 1st and ONLY championship. 2015’s tournament accounted for $1.07 B in TV ad revenue with 201 brands on display (ispot.tv). In 2010, Turner Sports and CBS struck a deal with the NCAA for 14 yrs of March Madness TV coverage, close to an $11 B contract. NCAA president Jim Isch said that the agreement will contribute close to $0.75 B a year to the conferences and member schools each year (USA2DAY).
How does March Madness rank among the other superstars?
MILLENNIAL VIEWING & HABITS
The NCAA Tourney is so precious to advertisers is b/c Millennials are well known for their lack of TV watching. Given that reality there is NO program (save a few live sports events) that break down that non-viewing wall. This tourney engages college students by both the lure of bracketology and their collegiate desire to participate in the March Madness experience. As the oldest segment of America’s youngest (and its biggest adult generation ever) “ages” into its early 30s, they’re prime time recipients of auto, home and family ad messages. This hard to reach audience is by far the best plum$ on the TV and streaming trees in the USA’s increasingly more youthful economy.
86% of millennials own a smartphone (Nielsen), 21% of millennials exclusively rely on a smartphone or tablet to access the internet instead of a computer (IB Times), and 81% of millennials integrate mobile devices into their everyday life (ComScore). 80% of the afore mentioned use their smartphones the very first thing in the morning (Zogby Analytics). Why is all of this relevant to March Madness?? Because the apps and websites related to March Madness are formatted for mobile use. Mobile devices helped March Madness’ the live streaming app, set records with 80 M+ live steams last year and 3.4 M live streams of the championship. As for social media, ‘15 March Madness had 350 M impressions on Facebook & Twitter, up 45% from the previous year (CNN Money). NO TV? NO PROBLEM! There are dozens of apps that will allow users to engage with the madness right at their fingertips. The real winners of March Madness may be those firms who chose to advertise on the court (Chevy, Home Depot, Progressive, etc), where the slam dunks and 3 point shots take place, with live streams showing more of the excitement and social media being a strong player. The impact of social media sharing and the advertising presented by live streams has huge potential for advertisers to reach enormous audiences on multiple platforms, in almost every location. The importance of advertising is properly captured in the above tables.