Roku: NCAA Men's Tournament Streaming Time Up 75%, Reach Up 87%, Vs. 2019

Streaming player Roku reports that NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament viewing hours on its platform rose 75.4%, and streaming reach rose  86.6%, compared with the 2019 tournament. 

Streaming reach is the number of Roku households that streamed channels carrying the games while they were live. 

Roku also reports that about 58% of those who watched the 2019 tournament on traditional linear TV via Roku did not return to traditional TV to watch this year’s tournament, while 25.5% of those have streamed a channel carrying the games during the games’ live coverage. 

Through the national semifinal games on April 3, traditional linear viewers over age 18 declined about 23%, while 80.4% of TV streaming was by viewers between 18 and 49, reports Roku. 

Roku’s analysis also showed that the higher the seed of a team within a Final-Four market, the higher the percentage of active Roku TV households that tuned into semifinal games on traditional linear TV. 

While CBS’s 17 million average viewers for this year’s Baylor-vs.-Gonzaga title game on Monday was down 14% from 2019, ViacomCBS presumably benefitted from streaming gains via Paramount+, which carried the game and shared the tournament with Turner Sports, notes Deadline

The COVID-19 pandemic — which caused 2020’s NCAA tournament to be cancelled — drove an overall surge in streaming, and no doubt helped accelerate the growth of streaming device adoption. 

Roku’s number of active accounts reached 51.2 million by year-end 2020, up from 27.1 million at the end of 2018. 

According to a new consumer survey by Hub Entertainment Research, 40% of U.S. TV households now report having Roku, either through a device such as a player, smart speaker or streaming stick, or through a smart TV with a built-in Roku operating system. That’s up from 35% in Q1 2020 and 30% in Q1 2019. (Fire TV households were found to be at 29%, up from 23% in 2019.) 

Roku, which worked with Dentsu’s Amplifi to generate the tournament data for Dentsu clients, points out that basketball is not alone in seeing a consumer shift toward live-streaming games. 

“This is the latest example of the transformation shift occurring in TV viewing behavior,” states Roku National Brad Team Lead Kristina Shepard. “What we’re seeing is reflective of a change taking place across all the major sports as they returned from a pandemic-induced pause.” 

Marketers looking to continue reaching mass audiences through live sports “must shift their focus towards TV streaming,” Shepard asserts.

2 comments about "Roku: NCAA Men's Tournament Streaming Time Up 75%, Reach Up 87%, Vs. 2019".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 8, 2021 at 10:58 a.m.

    Karlene, did the ROKU release say how many homes---or people--- saw the games via ROKU? Percent change without the actual audience size being identified can be a somewhat misleading metric and, of course, a highly promotional one.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, April 8, 2021 at 9:05 p.m.

    Further to Ed's comments, "growth" is not numerically constrained.   For example, sales treble and that is 3x or +200%.

    Reach however is a constrained metric that can range between 0% reach (i.e. no-one), to 100% reach (i.e. everyone).

    The correct way to analyse and report reach it to say something like "reach increaed by x reach points".

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