The NCAA men's college basketball tournament--known as "March Madness"--is the most lucrative postseason tournament in all of sports when it comes to advertising revenue, surpassing even the NFL and college football's BCS bowl games.
According to AdWeek, a new report from Kantar Media found that CBS and Turner Sports received over $1 billion in ad revenue last year from the NCAA tournament, which was more than the respective playoffs and championship series for the National Football League ($976.3 million), National Basketball Association ($536.9 million), Major League Baseball ($354.1 million), and National Hockey League ($101.1 million). The numbers are more remarkable when one considers March Madness lasts only three weeks whereas the NBA playoffs, for instance, last about two months.
After the NCAA selection committee announces the 68 teams that will take part in this year's tournament on Sunday, millions of Americans will feverishly fill out their brackets and watch the games on television. Advertisers know this, which is why they are scrambling to put their commercials on March Madness telecasts. In an age when the media landscape is becoming more fragmented and consumers can watch programming at their conveniences, sports is one of the few areas advertisers know people will be watching live, and that is why networks are commanding more money for television spots during live sporting events.
AdWeek notes that "a 30-second spot in the Final Four commanded as much as $700,000" last year while the average ad for the national title game in college basketball cost about $1.34 million. Super Bowl ads cost around $3.5 million and ads on the BCS title game command around $1.14 million. Commercials airing during the MLB All-Star Game cost around $550,00 and 30-second spots airing during the NBA finals and the World Series cost around $460,000 and $450,000 respectively.