March Madness is a curious event. It’s almost patriotic in the way that big segments of the country come together to fill out brackets — nearly 37 million people in 2022 — and then pay attention to the tournament to see how they do. Don’t really know how a bracket works? Doesn’t matter. Don’t have a favorite team? Doesn’t matter. Don’t know a Wildcat from a Bearcat, or a Bulldog from a Horned Frog, or a Blue Devil from a Demon Deacon? Doesn’t matter. Fill out your bracket and let’s go watch some basketball.
The tournament is played, of course, to determine a champion. Single elimination. Win or go home. And the Final Four and championship games are definitely exciting. The excitement of the tournament leads to huge ratings and viewership year after year. The entire 2022 tournament averaged 10.7 million viewers and had a 17.0 share for its live game telecasts. Viewing was up 13% over last year and was the highest NCAA Men’s Tournament since 1994.
2022 also produced the most-viewed NCAA Men’s Championship Game telecast ever across TBS, TNT and truTV. The Kansas/North Carolina game delivered an average of 18.1 million viewers, up 4% over the 2021 national championship.
The most exciting games, though — the ones that people buzz about — occur in the early rounds. Every tournament has its share of Cinderella stories. Bracket busters. When David defeats Goliath. Teams that the conventional wisdom overlooks, but who defy the odds and advance.
In 2022, little St. Peter’s University from Jersey City knocked off highly seeded and perpetual powerhouse Kentucky to eventually land in the Elite Eight. They were ousted by North Carolina, which was having its own Cinderella tournament by starting as an No. 8 seed, knocking out arch-rival Duke, and winding up in the championship game.
These stories end at the Final Four or the championship game. They happen in the early rounds, and as anyone who’s ever groaned at a promising bracket suddenly falling apart can tell you, they’re very difficult to predict.
So, what does this mean? It means that if you’re inclined to align yourself or your business with the tournament, targeting that unique audience of sports fans and non-sports fans alike, it makes sense to buy the whole tournament. And when everyone goggles at the inexplicable — the underdog taking out the big dog — you’ll be a part of it.
Your a4 account executive can help with package plans. Tip off that conversation today.
By David Williams. Originally Published on MediaVillage