As the NCAA Tournament will begin in earnest on Thursday, broadcast partners CBS and Turner Sports go into this year knowing that the event is a cash cow. Advertisers with plenty of national platforms on on TV and online are aware that their messages will be seen by plenty of Americans.

While ratings fell last year (notably for the Final Four and National Championship both being on TBS together for the first time), ad revenue reached $1.24 billion in 2016 and that was up 5% from the previous year.

Dating back to 2007, ad spending has jumped from $525 million to $1.24 billion. Ad spending on the NCAA Tournament has outpaced the NBA Playoffs ($1.03 billion last year) and trails only the NFL postseason which generated $1.31 billion.

One reason why ad sales have increased so much since 2007 is due to all of the games being aired nationally. When CBS aired the tournament solo, first round games were aired regionally in four different windows. But with Turner on board, all 32 first round games are televised across the country so advertisers know their commercials will bre seen.

Some advertisers choose only to appear only in the first weekend of the tournament knowing that’s when upsets are likely to happen. But most companies elect to stay for all three weeks of March Madness and appear during the Final Four and the National Championship.

And with this year’s Final Four and National Championship airing on CBS, advertisers are aware that there will be a bigger audience than last year.

March Madness has become a special event not just for sports fans, but also for advertisers who hope to reach a mass audience for three weeks.

[Media Life Magazine]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • Jean H Pierre

    The partnerships in sports TV. NCAA TOURNAMENT and CBS/TURNER.

  • Raymond Chuang

    I still think that starting next season, the Final Four should be on over-air TV on the CW Network, since Time Warner, the corporate parent of Turner Sports, owns 50% of the CW Network. That way, most of the USA can get the Final Four and championship game over-air, which has higher ratings than cable/satellite TV only. That’s why I’ve always thought the College Football Playoff (FBS) should be on ABC, not ESPN.

    • Shawn Diiorio

      No one gives a Sh*t about The CW. Just because you own a network does not mean you have to put sports on it.

      • Raymond Chuang

        I disagree. The CW is an _over-air_ network, and as such you don’t need a cable or satellite subscription to watch it. Last year’s Final Four and championship games took a major hit in the ratings because it was on TBS, not over-air CBS.

        Hence my suggestion that the College Football Playoff (FBS) and championship game should be on ABC, not ESPN.

  • John Cunningham

    Thanks CBS, and Turner Sports, for your unbridled and infinite GREED $. Very awkward moment for my 11 year old son, when watching the Kentucky vs. Wichita St. game and an Erectile Dysfunction Ad comes on…….anything for money, shameful.