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Advertisers Go Mad for March Ad Spots

NCAA men’s basketball championship spots cost more than pro playoffs

March 22, 2016

Ad spending during the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Championship continues to climb, according to a March 2016 report from Kantar Media. Advertisers spent nearly $1.2 billion during the 2015 tournament.

NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Championship Ad Spending* and Number of Unique Advertisers, 2006-2015

Ad sales rose nearly 4.8% from 2014. The number of unique advertisers is down from its 10-year peak in 2007, though the 96 unique advertisers in 2015 is up from 2013 and 2014, when there were just 89.

And advertisers certainly feel the madness each spring: Only NFL playoff football sees more postseason advertising, at $1.3 billion in 2015. The NCAA leads MLB playoff baseball and NBA playoff basketball, no small feat.

Kantar’s report also has some possible insight into why there are fewer unique advertisers now than in the mid-2000s: 30 seconds of advertising during the college basketball tournament costs more than nearly any other sporting event.

Average US TV Ad Price per 30 Seconds for Major Sporting Events, 2015 (thousands)

While Super Bowl ads are by far the most expensive, at $4.4 million for just 30 seconds, and the penultimate games of the NFL postseason, the AFC and NFC championship games, cost just about $2 million per spot, NCAA tournament spots are the third-most-expensive to snag. Each 30 second spot costs, on average, $1.6 million.

With entire weekends donated to broadcasting the NCAA tournament over multiple channels, it’s clear that TV ads, while pricy, are heavily favored by advertisers looking to catch consumers’ attention.

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