Networks Dunked $656M During March Madness

Standard Media Index finds ad revenue grew 5%
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March Madness continued to be a full-court moneymaker with CBS and Turner Sports generating $655.1 million in ad revenue during the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, according to new data from Standard Media Index.

Auburn University's Jared Harper during the 2019 SEC College Basketball tournament

Early round games generated the majority of ad revenue during the NCAA Men''s basketball tournament.

Ad revenue was up 5% from 2018, according to SMI, with the biggest increases coming in the final seven games, including the Final Four and the championship games, which moved to CBS from Turner.

Revenue for those last seven high-profile games was up 8% to $308.2 million, a figure that represented 47% of the total ad revenue for the entire 68-team tournament. The championship game alone accounted for 13.6% of ad revenues.

Most of the ad revenue for the tournament was generated by the early rounds when more team participated and more games were played. The round of 32 alone generated $126 million, or an average of $7.9 million per game window.

SMI said that the NCAA Tournament still has room to grow in terms of ad revenue.

“Even at these elevated levels as well as the continued growth of digital usage the event is not slowing down as a marketer haven. The event’s draw with marketers is not only a passionate fan base but also a light period for Sports where NCAA Basketball can dominate the conversation,” SMI CEO James Fennessy said.

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