| March 13
March 13 The annual NCAA men's basketball
tournament is still among the biggest draws on the sports
calendar for advertisers looking to get in front of large
audiences, even as TV ratings drop for some major U.S. sporting
The past 12 months have brought a slew of close finishes for
major sports championships. But with the exceptions of the
National Basketball Association's Finals last June and Major
League Baseball's World Series in the fall, the audiences were
not as large as hoped for, underscoring that in today's shifted-
viewing environment, live sports are no longer bulletproof.
Even February's Super Bowl, the first to go into overtime,
fell victim to the NFL's season-long ratings decline.
That has put more scrutiny on pricey ad buys for big-time
sporting events. Yet advertisers are still willing to fork over
major dollars to get in front of the events' large audiences,
which include young males, among the most-coveted and
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's three-week
tournament is the second-largest generator of national TV ad
dollars among all U.S. sports' post-seasons, trailing only the
It also is among the priciest ad buys in television. While
CBS Corp and Time Warner’s Turner Sports, which
have jointly aired the tournament since 2011, do not comment on
ad rates, the price for 30 seconds of airtime during the April 3
National Championship game ranges from $1.2 million to more than
$1.5 million, according to three sources with knowledge of
Last year's National Championship game averaged around $1.4
million for a 30-second spot, according to ad-tracking firm
Kantar Media, and the tournament brought in more than $1.2
billion for CBS and Turner.
But betting big on a major sporting events that
under-deliver, especially with rising ad costs, puts marketers
in a bind.
"You're not necessarily going to get fired for putting more
money on YouTube or more money in Google search, Facebook or
even Snapchat at it this point in time," said a media buyer who
requested anonymity. "Yet they may question you when you say
you’re going to spend $5 million on a Super Bowl spot, or $1.5
on the NCAA tourney and have it fall flat or be an unexciting
game or have it underdeliver."
For the entire 2017 tournament, ad rates are up by "mid
single-digit increases" according to John Bogusz, executive vice
president of sports sales and marketing at CBS.
Some of that is buoyed by the tournament having 19 different
corporate sponsors, three more than last year, that have ad buys
throughout the tournament.
“We got this major jump start in ad sales, because we have
upwards of 60 percent of our advertisers already in,” said Jon
Diament, executive vice president for Turner Sports ad sales.
(Reporting by Tim Baysinger; Editing by Anna Driver and Dan