By Barry Janoff
May 7, 2013: In each of the past two years, companies spent more than $1 billion to advertise during the NCAA Div. I men's basketball tournament, aka March Madness.
Beginning next year, more of those adversing dollars will move from network TV to cable.
In a move that reflects where the growing power of TV resides, CBS Sports and Turner Sports have unveiled their programming schedule for their exclusive joint TV coverage of the men's basketball tournament for the next ten years.
In 2014 and 2015, Turner's TBS will televise the NCAA Final Four national semi-finals, taking those high-rated games off of CBS and onto cable for the first time. In each of those two years, CBS would continue to broadcast the NCAA national championship game.
Beginning in 2016, CBS Sports and Turner Sports would then alternate coverage of the Final Four national semi-final games and national championship game between CBS and TBS, with TBS airing the Final Four and national championship games in 2016 and CBS broadcasting those games in 2017.
Earlier round coverage of the tournament would continue to be televised across four national television networks — CBS and Turner's TBS, TNT and truTV, with the First Four airing exclusively on truTV — as they have since the current $10.8 billion, 14-year TV alliance between CBS Sports and Turner was signed in 2010 and officially launched with the 2011 tournament.
The 2014 Final Four and national championship games will be played in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, April 5 and April 7. There 2015 Final Four and title game will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The 2016 Final Four and title game is scheduled from Houston's Reliant Stadium.
“From the beginning, our partnership with Turner Sports has exceeded every one of our expectations,” Sean McManus, chairman for CBS Sports, said in a statement. “[This] news represents another win-win arrangement that continues to help us extend the reach of this marquee property by combining the resources of our two organizations."
CBS has televised the NCAA Div. I men's basketball tournament since 1982.
In 2012, more than 176 million people tuned into the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship. The 2013 tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV was the most-watched in 19 years, averaging 10.7 million total viewers, up 11% from last year’s 9.6 million viewers, according to CBS Sports and Turner.
In 2012, for the first time in March Madness history, companies spent more than $1 billion in advertising, according to marketing and research firm Kantar Media, NY. That not only put the Tournament ahead of the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl XLVI ($975.3 million), but was almost as much as the combined ad money spent during the post-seasons for the NBA ($536.9 million), MLB ($354.1 million) and NHL ($101.1 million), per Kantar. Figures for Super Bowl XLVII ad spend are still being finalized.
"[This] represents another win-win arrangement that continues to help extend the reach of this marquee property by combining the resources of our two organizations."
Ad spend for 2013 again topped $1 billion (figures are still being finalized). More than 80 companies advertised during the Tournament, with the top ten accounting for more than $365 million, more than a third of the total TV ad spend.
NCAA marketing partners include AT&T, Capital One, Coca-Cola, Allstate, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, Lowe's, Nabisco, Northwest Mutual, Reese's, Unilever and UPS.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to televise the Final Four national semi-final games and two of the Elite Eight games on TBS beginning next year, and for the network to televise its first national championship game in 2016," David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting, said in a statement. “Coming off another incredible year of strong ratings and exciting games, the popularity of the NCAA Tournament and Final Four continues to resonate with fans across the country. "