Mobile Drives March Madness Traffic

Smartphones and tablets account for 20% of Web traffic for sports content during first round games of NCAA Tournament, according to comScore
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In another sign of the growing importance of smartphones and tablets for sports, a new analysis from comScore has found users were accessing significantly more sports content on those mobile devices than usual and that smartphones and tablets accounted for a fifth of the Web traffic in sports content during the first round games of the NCAA Tournament.

Even though overall digital consumption of sports content on the three main platforms -- computers, tablets and smartphones -- increased by 79% on the first day of the Tournament, smartphone and tablet growth grew even faster.

The figures are for browser-based (i.e. non-app) page views in the sports content category.

"The NCAA Tournament, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics, is one of those events where sports fans don't want to miss a beat of the action -- especially if they can't be in front of a TV," said Debbie Bradley, senior director at comScore in a statement. "Over the past several years we've seen fans become more reliant on the web for NCAA tournament coverage, especially while they're tied to their desks at work during the first round matchups. As media formats continue to evolve, we're rapidly seeing America's national college basketball obsession increasingly bleed over to other screens like smartphones and tablets. Given the emphasis large advertisers place on these events, it's important to consider how other media channels can be leveraged to maximize a brand's awareness and its communication with the consumer."

As part of the study, comScore analyzed computer versus non-computer traffic, which is primarily made up of smartphones and tablets, for the Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16 of the NCAA tournament compared to the average of the three previous Thursdays and Fridays. This showed that about 20% of the sports traffic was coming from smartphones and tablets, much higher than other categories, where mobile accounted for only 10%.

The study also found that during the first day of opening round NCAA tournament games on Thursday, March 15, total sports-related traffic jumped 79 percent compared to the average of the three previous Thursdays. In contrast, total traffic for all other content slipped by 2%.

Overall the consumption of sports content on tablets jumped at an even higher rate, 94%, while smartphone increased by 83% and computer traffic showed a hefty 77% bounce.