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TBS, CBS Build on ‘March Madness’ Gains

3/12/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

With the field and the brackets
set from “Selection Sunday” (March 11),
Turner Sports and CBS Sports will officially
tip off their sophomore year of coverage of the
NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship
on March 13 with the first “First Four”
game in Dayton, Ohio.

As was the case a year ago, Turner and CBS
are sharing talent, production and ad sales over
the course of the 67 games.

CBS, in its 31st year of March Madness coverage,
will televise 41 contests, including Sweet
16 and Elite Eight matchups, plus the Final Four
on March 31 and the National Championship
game on April 2. TBS, TNT and TruTV will televise
16, 12 and 13 contests, respectively, including
both First Four affairs.

NUMBERS ARE UP

Last year’s presentation — the first in which every
tourney game had its own national window,
compared with early-round regional coverage
of the past — made for the most-watched tournament
since 2005, averaging 10.2 million viewers.
All told, more than
176 million tuned in for
some of the Madness.

From a sales perspective,
the 2011 tourney
garnered the most
ad dollars ever — $743.4
million, according to
Kantar Media, up 21%
from $631.8 million the
year before.

Turner and CBS executives
won’t specify
dollar amounts, but
noted in interviews at
their March 6 NCAA media event in New York
that the team had set a more aggressive sales
goal than last year and will achieve it.

Pointing to strength in the auto, tech and
financial/insurance categories, John Bogusz,
executive vice president, sports sales and
marketing at CBS, put the sell-through level
at 95%, with the rest in reserve for late opportunities,
or perhaps make-goods should the
tourney fall short of audience guarantees.

Jon Diament, executive vice president,
Turner Sports ad sales
and marketing, was
also pleased with
the tourney’s performance.
He noted the
digital side moved before
the linear inventory,
which almost “never
happens” and which
speaks to the way fans
now consume the tournament.

To that end, the digital
roster has been expanded.

March Madness Live, formerly dubbed
March Madness On Demand, now is open to
Android users, as they join online, iPhone and
iPad users in being able to watch the contests
and access a host of other supplemental tourney
information.

NEW DIGITAL DOORS

This time the content must be authenticated
through a cable or satellite provider — a
universe estimated by Turner Sports senior
vice president and general manager of operations
Matt Hong at 77 million households —
or pay a $3.99 fee.

Putting the package price at about 6 cents
per game, Hong said he didn’t think the cost
would prove to be much of an impediment.
He wouldn’t make a forecast but said the addition
of the Droid platform, plus the growing
usage patterns for mobile and online, bode
well for March Madness Live overall.

In 2011, March Madness On Demand
dunked a 63% year-over-year rise in visitors,
to 52 million. Streamed video use rose 17%,
to 13.7 million hours, 30% of which emanated
from free iPhone and iPad applications.

UPFRONTS AHEAD

The following programmers will be holding upfront
presentations for advertisers and media in New York:

Tuesday, March 13: Disney Channel

Wednesday, March 14: Crown Media Family
Networks; Nickelodeon

Thursday, March 15: NBC News/MSNBC

Monday, March 19: ABC Family

Tuesday, March 20: IFC; TV One

Wednesday, March 21: GSN

 

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April