March Madness 2015 came to a close last night with Duke Blue Devils overcoming a 9 point deficit in the second half to beat the Wisconsin Badgers 68-63 in the final minutes of the game.
Notable performances were that of Duke’s freshman players Grayson Allen who scored 8 straight points and Tyus Jones who led with a game changing 23 points.
While Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky held his own on the court with 21 points and 12 rebounds, it wasn’t enough to make up for a lackluster offensive performance by Wisconsin’s other star players such as Josh Gasser who failed to score a single point the entire game.
The athletes weren’t the only players giving it their all on the courts over the course of the challenging tournament however. March Madness hosts some equally well-known corporate players, all vying for their moment in the spotlight in hopes to transfer fan avidity into brand loyalty.
Every aspect of the March Madness tournament is saturated with branding: major sponsors include ‘MVP’s’ of the corporate world such as AT&T, CapitalOne, and Coca-cola, the NCAA bracket is presented by Buick, the ‘drive of the night’ presented by Enterprise Rent-a-Car. March Madness even has an official ladder, Werner, used to reach the nets to cut them down after the championship game.
It’s no surprise then that sponsorship of March Madness has generated a purported $7.5 billion in TV advertising alone since 2005.
Last year alone, TV sponsorship topped $1.13 billion, representing a 1.5% increase from the prior year that is second only to NFL playoffs in total national TV ad revenue for post-season sports programming. According to price, this trend will only gain in momentum, with the increase in advertising progressing at an average rate of 8.21% every year for the past 10 years.
Due to the increasing popularity of the Tournament, networks have also been able to increase the price for their advertising inventory. Kantar Media says that in 2014 the average 30 second advertising spot was just short of $1.5 million, which was a 5% increase from 2013.
March Madness has become big business for the NCAA, its corporate partners and the networks that air the content that captures the attention of sports fans around the world.