There may be no better sporting event that epitomizes the multi-channel media consumption available to modern consumers than March Madness. The three month-long tournament offers a slew of options for brands that want to connect with the millions (and millions and millions) of fans who watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
It’s a Media Mix Marketing bonanza, babbbbby!
How can a fan enjoy March Madness? What channels are available for advertisers? Let us count the ways:
LIVE BROADCAST TELEVISION:
Since 1982 the NCAA has had a relationship with CBS, who has been the primary broadcast partner. Games are available nationwide and internationally over broadcast TV.
In 2011, the group of networks paid $10.8 billion to the NCAA for the rights to televise the tournament through 2025, a record sum.
LIVE CABLE TELEVISION:
In the first four full days of the tournament, there are dozens of games, many of them taking place simultaneously. To accommodate this, while one game is aired on broadcast television via CBS, other games are shown on TNT, TBS, and TruTV, frequently using CBS or regional announcers. The expansion of broadcasts to cable TV has elevated the stature and reach of the tournament, making it an all-day viewing event.
STREAM ON MARCH MADNESS LIVE:
March Madness Live is a joint cross-platform service by CBS, Turner Broadcasting, the NCAA. It’s an app, a website, a stunning visual experience that allows the fan to practically become the director of the show. From March Madness Live, fans can watch up to eight games simultaneously and even choose to see replays and highlights in-game. A few years ago the app introduced the “Boss Button,” which you can press when someone is over your shoulder and you don’t want them to know you’re not working. The beauty of March Madness Live is that it works well on a computer, smart TV, tablet, or even a cell phone.
NATIONAL AND REGIONAL RADIO COVERAGE:
Currently, CBS Radio and ESPN Radio share rights to tournament games, with both partners streaming those same broadcasts over the Internet as well.
Fans can access real-time scoring updates via the March Madness app or via several partner apps for smart phones or smart TVs. Google provides real-time scoring updates on their search results pages in conjunction with CBS and its broadcast partners.
BRACKET FUN AND SOCIAL MEDIA:
Every March, there are 70 million brackets filled out for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It’s estimated that about 45 million people participate, according to the American Gaming Association. The beauty of a bracket is the way it personalizes the event, connecting the fan to the tournament in a way that makes them feel invested. There’s no telling how many more beers have been sold thanks to the invention of the bracket (which apparently first emerged at a bar in Staten island in 1977).
Brackets started as simple hand-drawn sheets of paper, but they’ve evolved into fully interactive apps embedded into websites or on your phone. They can be filled out via social media and immediately shared with friends and family. Because of this, brackets and the conversations and communities that pop up around them are ripe opportunities for advertisers. At last check, there were no fewer than two dozen “March Madness” apps on Apple’s App Store, each of them branded.
That’s at least six ways to consume March Madness, a unique event that’s more like a spectacle than a sporting event. People who normally wouldn’t watch college basketball morph into crazed fanatics for a few weeks, draped in the colors of their favorite school, raising a glass of beer to their friends as they enjoy the games at the local watering hole. Many fans simply root for tournament excitement itself, it’s a cause for thrills, a reason to have fun.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT THE MARCH MADNESS AUDIENCE:
- In 2019, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament averaged 10.5 million viewers per game
- March Madness ranks second among postseason events for overall marketing spend. In 2019, $738 million was spent by advertisers during the NCAA Tourney. That trails only the NFL postseason (including the Super Bowl), which raked in a cool $900 million in the last reported year (2019).
- A 30-second spot during the NCAA Championship Game cost $1.2 million in 2019, or nearly three times as much as a 30-second ad during the 2019 World Series ($420,000).
- 71% indicate that they watch NCAA Tourney games at home, 12% watch them at a bar, restaurant or other public location, and 24% use a computer to check scores. An impressive number (15%) watch games streamed live on either a computer or mobile device. (According to Neilsen data from 2016)
- While the NCAA Tournament reaches fewer people overall (90 million on average since 2016) than the Super Bowl and the World Series, the multi-week nature of the event provides an opportunity for advertisers to create a familiarity with consumers over a longer period of time.
DIRECT RESPONSE MARKETING
If you wish to reach consumers during events like March Madness, or desire to use television or radio to launch a mass marketing campaign, Koeppel Direct can make it happen. We have decades of experience negotiating ad buys in TV and radio, and we understand the complexities of the modern media. Here’s more great news: a Direct Response Marketing campaign doesn’t have to swallow your budget. We can help you strategize and implement a campaign that meets your budgetary needs and delivers results.