After an action-filled NCAA basketball tournament worthy of its nickname, March Madness is culminating in the Final Four on Easter weekend. As basketball fans across the United States are looking forward to find out who will emerge as the winner from this year’s tournament full of last-gasp winners and historic upsets, sports fans from other parts of the world tend to be surprised by the attention given to the event. After all, it’s “only” college sports.
The love of college sports is in fact unique to the United States and what better way to gauge the popularity of any sporting event these days than to compare TV advertising revenues. As the following chart illustrates, March Madness is right up there with the big boy professional leagues in terms of post-season ad spending. In 2017, the season-ending college basketball tournament attracted nearly $1.3 billion in TV ad spending, leaving the NBA and MLB playoffs behind. The only post season event that is an even bigger feast for advertisers is the NFL playoffs, culminating in the Super Bowl, which attracted more than $1.5 billion in TV ad spend last year.
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