The year was 2003. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California, Apple released iTunes, everyone’s friend Tom started MySpace, and March Madness was streamed online for the first time. The 2003 deal was between CBS and Yahoo! to stream the first 3 rounds of the tournament as part of the Yahoo! Platinum service for $16.95 a month1. Two years later, the NCAA announced that March Madness 2006 would be streamed free of charge on NCAAsports.com2.
Fast forward a mere 16 years and we now see that not only are people streaming March Madness, but the streaming viewership is beginning to eclipse those watching the tournament on TV.
During the 2021 NCAA tournament, streaming audiences reach increased by over 85% from the 2019 tournament (2020 was canceled due to Covid19). On the other side, TV reach among adults 18+ declined by 24%.3
So what does this mean for advertisers? Cue the sports analogies. The best way to win in the game is to have a full-court press when it comes to your advertising strategy. Gone are the days that you can just run an ad on TV and reach everyone at once. Combining OTT and Cable TV advertising is a slam dunk to expand your reach. A strong bench will also be crucial to reaching your audience during March Madness. Adding in things like Pre-roll, Display, and Audio will ensure that you are communicating with your customers throughout the tournament in a multitude of ways.
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Director of Vendor Relations