New York, NY – The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tiped off on last Tuesday. March 13th, the closing act in a vibrant first quarter of event TV that has included pro football’s Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards. Under a 14-year, $10.8 billion TV rights agreement that started in 2011, CBS and Turner Broadcasting are again partnering to show every tournament game live. The telecasts will be spread across four national networks – CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.
“March Madness is a marquee event and is successfully uniting traditional and digital media platforms to create more value for the audience and the marketers who seek to reach them,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research at Kantar Media Intelligence North America. “The tournament demonstrates how multiple screens can be complementary, rather than cannibalistic.”
An analysis of trend data by Kantar Media shows how the tournament has evolved over the past decade to become one of the largest and most valuable franchises in all of television sports.
TV Ad Revenue
Over the past ten years (2002-2011), national TV advertising during the men’s tournament has translated into more than $5.2 billion of spending from 275 different marketers. Ad revenue in 2011 reached an all-time high of $738.0 million, up 20.2 percent from the prior year. 2011 was the first time that every game of the tournament was aired nationally. This created additional commercial inventory and led to more spending.
A Growing Digital Presence
As in prior years, all 2012 tournament games will be streamed through the March Madness On Demand (MMOD) video platform for access via the web and mobile devices. The ad-supported videocasts offer another platform for sponsors to deliver commercial messages to viewers.
Comparing 2011 against 2010, CBS and Turner reported a 63 percent increase in total digital visits and a 17 percent increase in total hours of streamed video. Digital consumption is strongest during the early rounds of the tournament, driven by the combination of at-work viewership and multiple games being played simultaneously.
From 2006 to 2011 MMOD was free to consumers but this year some users will be hit with a charge. Turner will stream its games through the websites of TNT, TBS and truTV and require online users to authenticate their subscription to the TV channel through a cable, satellite or telco provider in order to avoid a fee. Non-subscribers will have to pay $3.99. CBS will continue to offer its games for free on the CBSsports.com web site.
CBS and Turner will each charge a $3.99 subscription fee for mobile device users.
The #2 Franchise in Post-Season TV Sports
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has grown into the second most lucrative post-season sports franchise as measured by national TV ad revenue. It consistently brings in more money than the post-season playoffs for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. Only the National Football League playoffs, which include the Super Bowl, bring in more ad spending.
The Price of Advertising
The price of a TV spot rises during the tournament and peaks with the championship game. The average cost any individual advertiser pays is strongly affected by how deep into the Tournament their package extends and the mix of less expensive air time in opening rounds versus pricier spots in later rounds.
In 2011, the average cost of a :30 unit in the championship game was just over $1.24 million, an amount comparable to the prior four years.
To put this pricing in context, it is slightly lower than the AFC/NFC pro football championships but far exceeds the NBA championship series and the MLB World Series.
In recent years around 80 different marketers have purchased TV ad time in each annual tournament. However, a small number of advertisers enjoy dominant positions and the top ten spenders consistently account for more than one-third of the money. Many of the companies in this upper tier have corporate sponsorship deals with the NCAA which give them additional opportunities to build marketing programs around the men’s basketball tournament and other NCAA sports.
In 2011, the top ten advertisers spent a total of $272.7 million to pitch their messages at viewers.
Top Ad Categories
The leading ad categories in the tournament are consistent with the male skew of the viewing audience. Last year’s top five invested $413.7 million and accounted for 56.0 percent of the total TV ad revenue. Two of these categories (Insurance and Restaurants) did not have a single marketer in the top ten list of advertisers, an indication that the category money came from a deeper list of competing brands.
About Kantar Media
Kantar Media provides strategic advice and competitive intelligence to the world’s leading brands, publishers, agencies and industry bodies, helping them navigate and succeed in a rapidly evolving media industry. This includes analysis of paid media opportunities; counsel on brand reputation, corporate management and consumer engagement through owned media; and, evaluating consumers’ reactions in earned media. Kantar Media provides clients with a broad range of insights from audience research, competitive intelligence, vital consumer behavior and digital insights, to marketing effectiveness and online influence. Our experts currently work with 22,000 companies tracking 3 million brands in 50 countries. www.KantarMediaNA.com