By Barry Janoff
March 11, 2015: The NCAA Men's Div. I Men's Basketball Tournament may not be the biggest event ever in the history of the world, but it comes pretty close to the top of the list in the history of sports events and sports marketing.
During March Madness this year, companies are anticipated to spend at or above $1.2 billion to reach fans and consumers, which would top the record $1.14 billion spent last year, according to marketing, research and consulting firm Kantar Media, NY.
The average cost for a 30-second spot during the championship game on CBS is also expected to set a new record, surpassing the $1.5 million for a 30-second spot during the 2014 title game between winner University of Connecticut and Kentucky.
The average $1.5 million was up 5% over 2013 ($1.42 million).
March Madness Live, which provides exclusive live video streaming through the entire tournament and is managed by Turner Sports, experienced during the 2014 tournament rises in online consumption, including 9.9 million unique viewers (+9% versus 2013), 70 million live video streams (+ 42% versus 2013) and 15.1 million live hours watched (+7% percent versus 2013), per Turner.
Games will air across CBS and Turner Broadcasting networks TBS, TNT and truTV under a $120.8 billion deal signed in 2010 with the NCAA that began in 2011 and runs through 2024.
According to Kantar Media, the NCAA has "successfully commercialized and monetized March Madness, creating a platform for corporate sponsors to reap benefits from advertising and promotional programs anchored around the games."
“March Madness has evolved into 'marketing madness,'” Jon Swallen, chief research officer for Kantar Media, said in a statement.
Over the past decade (2005-2014), 279 different marketers totaled some $7.5 billion worth of national TV ad expenditures.
The Top Ten spenders since 2004: General Motors ($83.2 million), AT&T ($61.9 million), Coca-Cola ($41.7 million), Anheuser-Busch ($41.6 million), Capital One ($41.2 million), Samsung ($31.8 million), Southwest Airlines ($31.5 million), Volkswagen ($29.3 million), Allstate ($28.5 million) and Unilever ($27.7 million).
GM, AT&T, Coke, Capital One, Allstate and Unilever are among the NCAA's official corporate marketing partners.
Microsoft's Bing signed a deal on Tuesday (March 10), to become the "official bracket data partner of the NCAA." Among its activations will be a Bracket Building tool filled with more than ten years of March Madness data "to help fans complete their (2015 tournament) brackets."
The full list of NCAA marketing partners now includes Corporate Champions AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola; and Corporate Partners Allstate, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Burger King, Enterprise, Infiniti, Kindle Fire, Lowe's, LG, Microsoft Bing, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese's, Unilever and UPS.
"The NCAA has successfully commercialized and monetized March Madness, creating a platform for corporate sponsors to reap benefits."
Since 2004, the top five categories have spent $651.6 million during March Madness, which represents 57.4% of total spend among all companies.
The No. 1 category is automotive ($216.9 million, 19.1% of total spend), led by GM, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz; followed by telecommunications ($128.5 million, 11.3%), led by AT&T, Dish and Sprint.
The Top Five also include restaurants ($107 million, 9.4%), led by Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King and Taco Bell; financial services ($105 million, 9.3%), led by Capital One, Quicken and TD Ameritrade; and insurance ($94.2 million, 8.3%), led by Allstate, Northwestern Mutual and State Farm.
The expected spend for a 30-second spot during the Championship Game is up from $1.03 million in 2005, $1.12 million in 2006, $1.22 million in 2010 (the last season before the CBS-Turner alliance), $1.24 in 2011 (the first year of the CBS-Turner alliance) and $1.34 million in 2012.
The value of media exposure for NCAA corporate partners in 2014 also set a record, reaching $112.8 million from such elements as in-arena signage, on-air graphics and verbal mentions and fan and experiential activations.
Capital One led here with $29 million in media exposure, followed by AT&T ($23 million), GM's Buick ($8.2 million), Coke ($7.4 million) and Enterprise ($6.1 million).
Marketing partners are also lining up activations for Final Four week in Indianapolis, where Final Four and Championship Game will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Among the events are the March Madness Music festival, with three days of live performances presented by AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola; Final Four Friday, which features the Reese’s College All Star Game. open practices and other on-court promotions; and the Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One, with activations from such NCAA partners as Burger King, Buffalo Wild Wings, Oreo, Wilson and LG.
The NCAA said that last year more than 175,000 people attended Final Four Weekend sponsored events.
This year's college hoops extravaganza begins March 15 with Selection Sunday on CBS and the first-round First Four on truTV (March 17-18) and runs through the Final Four (April 4) and the Championship Game (April 6).
CBS for the 34th consecutive year will air the Championship Game, with TBS for the second year getting the two Final Four games.
Back to March Madness
Back to Home Page