NCAA Men's Title Game Down 14% In Viewers, 'March Madness' Streaming Rises

CBS’ NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship game on Monday night sank 14% to 17 million Nielsen-measured viewers from its 2019 contest.

This year’s game was won in the blowout by Baylor over Gonzaga, 86-70. Last year, the entire three-week tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBS ran 74 national TV spots in the game, totaling an estimated $119 million in national TV advertising spend, according to EDO’s Ad EnGage. EDO, a TV advertising analytics company, estimated this yielded 1.2 billion impressions.

Top advertisers in the game included Capital One and AT&T, each with five commercial airings, while Geico, Coca-Cola, Buick and Apple each had three. Wendy’s, Subway, State Farm, Progressive Insurance, Powerade, NCAA, GMC and Acura had two each.

CBS’ on-air promotion ran eight commercial spots. ViacomCBS’ premium streamer Paramount+ had two.



Looking at the entire three-week, 66-game tournament event, Roku, the big platform of streaming services and apps, says viewing on its platform grew 75% over 2019 levels.

In addition, Roku said a majority of those who watched the 2019 tournament did not return this year. Roku figures this percentage to be about 58%.

Roku did not disclose any actual or estimated average TV viewers, similar to Nielsen measurements in reference to this percentage change.

At the end of 2020, Roku said, it had 51.2 million “monthly active users” on its platforms.

The 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament championship pulled in 19.6 million Nielsen-measured viewers. Kantar estimates total national ad spending for the 2019 event -- game, pre-game and post-game programming -- was $910 million.

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