Now that my NCAA bracket is shattered (and probably yours), I want to reflect on what March Madness really means to us in the media world- TV ratings.
The past few years it seems public interest in the Tournament has spiked as TV viewership has reached an all-time high. According to TVbytheNumbers.com, the 2011 Tournament achieved the best overall tournament-to-date average ratings that NCAA Basketball had seen in 20 years. This upward trend seems to have carried on into this year’s tournament, with the 2012 opening weekend delivering the highest-rated and most-watched first Saturday since 2007, averaging a 3% ratings increase across the 4 networks from last year.
These statistics beg the question, what has caused the recent spike in the March Madness audience? One potential factor contributing to the increase in ratings could be that the games are now also airing on TNT, TBS and TruTV. Prior to the 2011 Tournament, March Madness was only being televised on CBS until a joint deal was made with Turner Sports. Another possibility for this year’s numbers could be due to the NBA strike. Maybe basketball fans were put off by the professionals, and instead became attached to watching their favorite NCAA team while the NBA season was being repeatedly postponed.
While these ideas as to “why” are just speculation, based on the recent viewership trend it seems that March Madness is becoming an increasingly effective means for advertisers to reach a strong audience with their brand’s message.