Marketers advertising in the NCAA Men's Basketball
Championship telecasts on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV are getting millions of
dollars in free exposure via the telecasts in bars around the country,
according to data from NewMediaMetrics.
Nielsen doesn't measure viewership in bars and NMM data does
not project how many millions of viewers watch each game telecast from a bar.
NMM, however, does measure engagement and attachment on the part of viewers who
watch the NCAA tournament, along with NBA regular season and playoffs in bars.
And the NMM data shows that advertisers probably have
another name for these games: Happy Hour. Among male viewers of NCAA March
Madness games in bars and restaurants with TVs, there is a 22% emotional
attachment level with in-game advertising. That compares to a 43% attachment
level of viewers of the games on home television, but it is still a significant
percentage that is not being monetized by the televising networks.
Looking at three of the largest advertiser categories in the
tournament telecasts-auto, beer and fast food restaurants-male emotional
attachment in bars is at similar levels across all those categories and similar
in percentage of the attachment level of the games overall.
In the automotive category, male emotional attachment level
is at 18%, in beer it's 22% and in fast food restaurants it is 19%. Emotional
attachment for all three categories stays pretty constant specifically through
the last weekend's Final Four games. In auto, the male attachment is at 16%, in
beer it's 20% and in fast food it's 18%.
Denise Larson, cofounder of NMM, says the sample includes 1,750
men with the data taken from the 2012 360 Cross-Platform Emotional Attachment
Study. Larson said the emotional attachment levels for the tournament could
even be higher when the 2013 study is completed.
"This might be an issue that has lingered for a while but it
doesn't seem like anyone is talking about it," Larson says. "The games on TV
are getting solid ratings, but there is this mass audience that the networks
are not monetizing."
Larson says the ad community won't raise the issue because for
them, this mass viewership of their commercials during the tournament is
essentially on the house. However, the broadcasting networks-in this case, CBS
and Turner-should be trying to come up with some sort of solution with Nielsen.
Larson acknowledges that the same issue can be raised for other
major events, such as the Super Bowl, but it involves so much more free ad
exposure when it is a multi-week event like March Madness.
"This discussion will definitely resurface around the next
soccer World Cup, which also gets heavy viewership in bars around the country,"
Since it's basketball season at both the college and NBA
level, NMM put together data for that sport, Larson says.
Emotional attachment or engagement levels by men are also
high for the NCAA regular season basketball telecasts as well as for the NBA
regular season and playoffs.
NCAA regular season games have an emotional attachment level
among men of 47% watching at home on television and 27% watching in bars. NBA
regular season games have an emotional attachment level of 52% from men
watching on TV at home, and 31% from men watching in bars. NBA playoffs have an
emotional attachment level of 50% from men watching at home, and 27% from men
watching in bars.
It is possible that the televising networks haven't pressed
the issue because it's a way to reward advertisers who are putting up big
dollars to be in these tournament telecasts and give them some added value. The
networks don't seem to be pressing Nielsen to come up with a way to measure this
viewership in bars, and it seems like the issue has taken a back seat to
Nielsen working on ways to measure digital viewership and tie that into TV
But Larson says bars are "very valuable
environments" for both the NCAA tournament and the upcoming NBA playoffs "and
should be monetized by the content providers."