March mADness: A New Arena for Advertisers and Viewers

March Madness
By: Brendan McArdle

As the buzz of March Madness fills the air, it's clear that the landscape of sports broadcasting is evolving. The tournament not only draws crowds to stadiums but also pulls millions of eyes to screens, offering a prime opportunity for brands to connect with viewers. This year, the tournament has been nothing short of a revelation, particularly in highlighting the rise of streaming as a formidable force in sports viewership.

This shift in how audiences consume sports content has significant implications for advertisers. At Diray Media, we recognize the evolving nature of media consumption. Our expertise in navigating both traditional linear TV and burgeoning streaming platforms ensures that your brand remains visible no matter where your audience chooses to watch.

Record-Breaking Engagement

The 2024 NCAA tournaments have set new standards in viewership. For the first time, the women's title game drew more viewers than the men's, averaging 18.7 million viewers on ABC and ESPN and peaking at 24 million viewers. This made the game played between No. 1 seeds Iowa and South Carolina the most-watched women's college basketball game on record, as well as the most watched basketball game, men's or women's, since 2019. The 87-75 South Carolina victory was also the most-watched sporting event since 2019, excluding football and the Olympics. On the men's side, viewership also grew, with the championship game drawing an impressive 14.82 million viewers.

This flourishing interest in NCAA basketball, especially the women's tournament, is more than just a cultural shift; it represents a seismic shift in how audiences consume sports. With the men's championship game drawing viewers across TBS, TNT, and TruTV, the narrative around viewership is evolving. This shift towards a more inclusive and diverse audience profile, particularly with a significant interest spike in women's sports, sets a new stage for advertisers.

Simultaneously, the landscape of sports broadcasting is being reshaped by the rise of Connected TV (CTV) and streaming platforms, which accounted for a significant portion of viewers during events like March Madness. Last year, 65% of US households used these platforms, with an 85% increase in live streaming viewership on devices like Roku, signaling a shift in viewer preferences towards the convenience of home viewing. The influence of CTV is expanding, demonstrated by impressive returns on ad spend and its capacity to reach viewers across all genres. This pivot towards streaming not only offers advertisers enhanced targeting and analytics but also positions them to capitalize on a growing trend that is projected to see 118 million U.S. viewers streaming sports by 2025, thereby opening a critical opportunity to tap into a broader and increasingly diverse audience base.

This is where Diray Media steps in, providing advertisers a gateway to reach audiences across both linear and digital platforms. We ensure your brand not only adapts but stays ahead of the evolving media landscape. Our expertise spans TV and streaming, crafting innovative and effective campaigns. We develop strategies that engage your audience, whether they're at a bar or on their home couch, using a mix of traditional and digital media to captivate sports fans everywhere.

The narrative of sports broadcasting is shifting towards a balanced ecosystem where streaming services are increasingly becoming the go-to for sports fans, challenging the traditional dominance of linear TV. Research highlights that sports continue to be a stronghold for broadcast TV, yet the emergence of ad-supported CTV platforms and social media is reshaping how viewers engage with sporting events.

The rise of sports streaming is undeniable, Diray Media’s ability to navigate the complexities of both linear and digital advertising, coupled with our expertise in retargeting, positions your brand at the forefront of this transformational era. As the future of sports advertising unfolds, Diray Media is your partner in capturing the essence of March Madness and beyond, ensuring your brand scores big with every viewer. Join us as we pioneer the next wave of advertising, where visibility, impact, and audience engagement meet at the crossroads of sports and streaming.

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