March Madness Digital Ad Dollars Rise


In addition to the normal television hype, this year’s March Madness generated $60 million advertising revenue for content streamed across the Internet by CBS’ (NYSE:CBS) and Time Warner’s (NYSE:TWX) Turner Broadcasting.

That’s almost twice the level of digital advertising revenue produced from the 2009 tournament, according to Ad Age. However, Media Life noted that last year’s online advertising revenue came in just under the $60 million mark, suggesting that the sharp rise in digital revenues since 2009 might have slowed its pace.

Sports fans with access to a computer and the Internet could watch games broadcast over CBS on the network’s website for free. However, those wanting to watch games carried by Turner broadcasting had to log into the company’s website, providing their satellite or cable account subscription information.

Those who don’t subscribe to Turner or who wanted to watch the games on their smartphones and tablets had the option of paying $3.99 for March Madness Live, an app that permitted them to stream all 67 games live to their mobile devices or computers. The app also made it possible to watch replays of already finished games.

The $60 million figure did not include revenue generated from the streaming app, Ad Age said. Bloomberg noted that the app greatly simplified the process of streaming live games, avoiding content restrictions on different websites. and March Madness Live saw 31.3 million visits during the entire tournament, Ad Age said. This was barely changed from last year, but mobile streaming time shot up 40% compared to 2011 for the first two days of the tournament and spiked by 36% during the first weekend of games. Turner did not provide additional viewing time data.

Turner and CBS agreed in 2010 to pay $770 million a year for the rights to the NCAA tournament games through 2024. Last year’s March Madness games brought in a record $738 million in television advertising revenue.

March Madness Live debuted (as March Madness on Demand) on in 2003 as a fee-based service. The addition of advertising in 2006 eliminated the fee and the service remained free until this year, when the app brought it to mobile devices.

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