Although NCAA's men's basketball TV viewing took a hit in Nielsen-measured viewership headed into the Final Four this weekend, national TV advertisers have earned benefits from strong engagement data, according to EDO Ad EnGage.
EDO's engagement data -- which measures the increase in online search activity for a brand or product in the minutes immediately following the airing of a TV ad -- scored results that were 53% higher than average prime-time programming.
Earlier-round "Sweet Sixteen" games earned engagement scores that were 51% higher than average prime-time TV commercial engagement.
All rounds of the tournament -- including the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds -- were down 6% to 9.12 million Nielsen-measured viewers (from 9.66 million a year ago).
Analysts guess the decline was partly due to the absence of major big-name college basketball institutions from the later rounds of the event. Four number-one seeds did not make it into the Elite Eight round of games since the NCAA began seeding colleges in 1979.
However, this year's NCAA's Women's March Madness tournament witnessed an unexpected, sharp 43% rise in viewership to 2.2 million for the four Elite Eight round games on ESPN.
Overall, the women's tournament was up 42% so far to average 660,000 viewers.
But both men's and women's tournaments have seen strong engagement scores for nearly all TV commercials airing.
EDO says the women's basketball tournament scored 58% better engagement numbers than the average prime-time content.
For the women's game, this represented slightly better engagement results than the men's tournament.
However, unlike the men's tournament, the earlier two rounds of the women's baseball tournament scored nearly identical engagement results compared to the prime-time average.