By Published On: March 2, 2016

Attention all residents of earth! It’s time to get your brackets filled out! March Madness is upon us. And just as everybody turns Irish on St. Patty’s Day, everybody’s a college basketball fan in March. From the office betting pools, to the face painting, to the water cooler debates, to the hordes of beer-guzzling-nacho-eaters packing every hole-in-the-wall sports bar from New York to San Francisco, March Madness is a force to be reckoned with. How much of a force? Well, it affects business. The economy. The ad industry. T-shirt sales. Even family planning (we’ll get to that later). So never mind who’s actually playing in the tournament this year. Here, we bring you the real March Madness winners and losers:

jerseyWinner: Marketers and merchandisers

  • March Madness pulls in more national TV revenue than any other pro sports league’s postseason broadcast—over $1 billion in ad sales alone.
  • From 2004-2013, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament triggered more than $6.88 billion of national TV ad spending from 269 different marketers.
  • The retail marketplace for college merchandise was estimated to reach $4.59 billion during the 2013-14 school year.

Loser: Productivity

  • An estimated 3 million Americans will spend 1-3 hours watching games at work, and two-thirds will follow the tournament during work hours.
  • In another survey, a whopping 86 percent of employees said they plan to follow at least some of the tournament while at work.
  • One in seven fans admit to calling in sick to watch the tournament.
  • Challenger, Gray & Christmas report that Americans distracted by March Madness will cost their employers $1.9 billion.
  • 25% say they will spend 1-2 work hours checking stats online; 20% will spend 3-5 hours; 11% will spend 5 or more hours.

univWinner: The NCAA and its participating schools

  • March is like Black Friday for the NCAA. More than 90 percent of its annual operating revenue is derived from the tournament alone.
  • Tournament teams benefit from increased giving by alumni and boosters.
  • Besides bigger donations, colleges experience a boost in ticket, merchandise, and memorabilia sales, as well as applications.
  • Deep tournament runs provide schools with invaluable free publicity and national exposure. Successful NCAA tournament runs can put lesser-known schools on the map. One game in the NCAA tournament can fund a small school’s athletic department budget for an entire year.
  • National TV exposure makes it easier for college recruiters to attract top talent. A good showing during March Madness can also boost a player’s stock in the NBA draft and lead to a multimillion-dollar contract.

Loser: Attention spans

  • One survey shows that more than half of March Madness fans will follow the tournament on their smartphones throughout the work day—during conference calls, meetings, and even while they’re receiving performance reviews.

pizzaWinner: Pizza delivery drivers

Loser: Internet connections

  • According to a study by the IT staffing company Modis, 34% of IT professionals say employees watching the tournament during office hours has at one point shut down their network.


clampWinner: Urologists and their patients

  • Doctors report up to a 50% rise in the number of vasectomies during the NCAA tournament. The reason? The four-day rest period is perfect for a March Madness TV marathon stay-cation.



A Golden Marketing Opportunity

In terms of demographics, the most recent statistics show that the vast majority of March Madness viewers are, not surprisingly, Millennials—those cheering for their own school, supporting their alma mater, or just rooting for their favorite teams and players. Which means March Madness is a perfect time for marketers to reach that all-important demographic. In addition to the tens of millions tuning to TV, Millennials consume most of their content online, making those related websites, apps, and social media sites ideal places to reach the age group.

So there you have it, sports fans. It’s time to brace for the tidal wave that is March Madness. Get your foam fingers ready. Fill out your brackets if you haven’t. Download those Final Four apps and program your favorite pizza joint on speed dial. And for those who have been putting off that unpleasant trip to the urologist? You might want to make an appointment before it’s too late.



Statistics pulled from:

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
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