March Madness: Advertising Slam Dunk

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The NCAA® March Madness® Basketball Tournament isn’t just a sporting event -- it’s a cultural phenomenon. Beyond the excitement of buzzer-beaters, bracket-busting upsets, and Cinderella stories, March Madness® offers an annual opportunity for businesses of all sizes to score big with their audience through strategic live sports advertising.

Massive Audience Numbers

There is no doubt that March Madness® captivates viewers year after year, with tournament games averaging over 10 million viewers in 2023. While the 2023 men’s championship saw a minor drop in ratings compared to 2022’s record-breaking viewership, the women’s championship was the most-watched women’s college basketball game to date. The game was also the most-streamed sporting event (women’s or men’s) to date, on ESPN+.

While streaming services and online platforms contribute to the overall viewership, the vast majority of sporting events like March Madness® are still viewed live.(1) Within Optimum households, over 7.3 million HOURS were viewed live during the 2023 March Madness® tournament.(2)

Engagement and Attention

With the rivalry, tradition, and school pride -- college basketball’s passionate fan base generates high engagement. The tradition of bracket frenzy drives additional enthusiasm to the tournament, even for non-sports fans. In 2023, 56.3 million adults filled out a bracket ahead of the tournament and prepared to follow along with their picks.

The excitement around the tournament often spills over onto social media, allowing small businesses to reach a broader audience through strategic social media campaigns. Avid March Madness® fans are 30% more likely to engage on social media during the tournament(3) and these memorable moments during March Madness® often go viral. Compelling and shareable content has the potential to increase brand visibility thanks to social media discussions from fans.

Brand Recall and Association

Statistics show that small businesses that advertise in popular events like March Madness® are more likely to be remembered by consumers when making purchasing decisions. Television continues to be a leader in driving response, and 80% of March Madness® bracket players responded by visiting the advertiser's website, clicking on a banner ad, doing an internet search, buying the product advertised, or calling/visiting the advertiser after seeing an ad on television.(4)

By strategically aligning your advertising with the enthusiasm of March Madness®, your brand can score a marketing slam dunk that resonates long after the final buzzer sounds. 

From March 19 through April 8, 2024, during the March Madness® Tournament, a4 has 52 advertising opportunities in games airing across Turner Networks, including the Final Four and Championship games, as well as a unique multiscreen opportunity available in select markets.

As with any live sports, inventory is limited! Now is the time to get in on the action -- reach out to an a4 account executive today!

SOURCES: 1) American Sports Fanship Survey,, Feb 2023
2) Optimum STB Data 2023 total hours
3) March 2023
4) 2023 AudienceSCAN® study of US online adults 18+, SalesFuel, Inc.

This article was written by Jenna Walker, a4 Marketing Specialist

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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