Regular-Season College Basketball Sees 7% Increase In Viewing, TV Spend Up 22%

Leading into next month’s high-profile NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, also known as “March Madness,” regular-season college basketball continues to see steady viewership -- up 7% over a year ago.

National TV spend is sharply higher -- 22% more across virtually all TV networks airing , according to

From November 10-February 20, total national TV viewing came in at 16 billion impressions, amounting to $99.8 million in advertising revenue.

A year ago over the same period, impressions totaled 14.9 billion, while national TV ad revenue amounted to $81.7 million.

TV commercials airing during the game have averaged a 97 “attention” index, according to iSpot. The attention scale is 0 to 200, with 100 the average. A year ago, TV commercials averaged a 108 index, iSpot said.

“Attention” measures viewer attention based on a viewer's tendency to interrupt an advertisement on TV. That can include viewer actions that interrupt a TV ad such as changing the channel, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV, which decrease the creative's attention score.

Typically, the three-week March Madness event is college basketball's overwhelming revenue driver. It roughly generates just over $1 billion in national TV advertising revenue for the three-week period across CBS and Turner TV networks, which air the games.

Sports TV advertising remains a stable media buy for major brand campaigns.

For the regular-season college games so far, the top five paid TV advertising brands in terms of impressions for viewers 18 years and up are Sonic Drive-In (437.3 million) followed by Lexus (426.0 million); Progressive Insurance (413.4 million); Capital One (305.4 million) and Geico (269.0 million).

In terms of top TV networks airing college basketball this season, ESPN has totaled 6.3 billion impressions ($24.3 million in estimated TV spend), followed by ESPN2 with 3.3 billion impressions ($14.1 million); CBS with 2.2 billion impressions ($6.2 million); Fox Sports 1 with 2.1 billion impressions ($7.3 million); Fox with 1.7 billion impressions ($5.3 million); and ESPNU with 1.3 billion impressions ($5.8 million).

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