NCAA's March Madness Is 'Virtually Sold Out'

Advertising inventory in NCAA’s Men’s College Basketball Tournament -- “March Madness” -- is “virtually sold out,” says John Bogusz, executive vice president/sports sales and marketing at CBS Television Network.

“There were [price] increases in all rounds through the championship weekend,” he added, speaking on a call with reporters Wednesday. Bogusz did not provide details.

Last year, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Standard Media Index says, $655.1 million in national TV ad revenue was spent on CBS and Turner Networks.

Bogusz said just a couple of ad units remain unsold in one of the two Final Four semifinal games and the championship game. The other Final Four game is sold out.

Nearly half of the inventory in the two-and-a-half-week event comes from multi-year deals, advertising commercials already placed on CBS and Turner Sports networks.



Major ad categories this year are insurance, automotive, telecommunications, financial services and restaurants. New corporate partners include Aflac, Invesco and Great Clips.

Eighteen higher-level marketers will be in the tournament, including champion sponsors -- AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola. Partner-level sponsors include Aflac, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Geico, Great Clips, Invesco, Lowe’s, Marriott, Nabisco, Nissan, Pizza Hut, Reese’s, Uber Eats, Unilever and Wendy’s.

There will be a return of some theatrical movie studios' marketing spending, as well as new premium video streaming marketers, in the event.

“You’ll see some Paramount+ [TV] promos in there, too,” says Bogusz. During last month's airing of the Super Bowl on CBS, Paramount+, the new ViacomCBS streaming platform, had heavy on-air promo exposure during the game.

Overall, around 100 advertisers will participate in the tournament. Around 80% of the linear TV advertisers will also get streaming exposure.

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