While the NFL postseason is just beginning, marketers are looking ahead to March Madness, a major cultural phenomenon. A series of new studies reveal while NCAA March Madness games are available both on TV and AM/FM radio, each broadcast has a very different audience profile.
The NCAA Basketball TV audience consists of casual sports fans. The AM/FM radio play-by-play audience is more passionate and engaged. This distinction has a significant impact on advertising effectiveness.
MARU/Matchbox: Compared to the overall NCAA March Madness audience, AM/FM radio listeners are far more engaged
A study conducted by MARU/Matchbox in May 2023 of 943 persons 18+ reveals significantly different engagement and passion profiles between overall tournament audiences and the AM/FM radio listeners.
Consider these five dimensions of sports engagement:
- Currently attend/graduated from a college that typically plays in the NCAA Basketball tournament
- NCAA Tournament fandom level: 8 or higher (Fandom scale where 1 = “not closely at all” and 10 = “love it”)
- Average # of NCAA Tournament games followed
- % that follow the Tournament through to the Final
- Mute NCAA Tournament on TV to hear AM/FM radio coverage of the game
On each measure, MARU/Matchbox reports the AM/FM radio NCAA March Madness play-by-play audience is more engaged and passionate about the tournament than the overall audience.
Compared to overall NCAA March Madness fans, the AM/FM radio audience follows +10% more games and is:
- +28% more likely to have attended/graduated from a NCAA Basketball college
- +32% more likely to be an NCAA Tournament super fan (8+ on 1-10 fandom scale)
- +14% more likely to follow the Tournament through to the Final
- +33% more likely to mute the Tournament coverage on TV and hear the AM/FM radio coverage
Nielsen Scarborough: Compared to the TV March Madness audience, the AM/FM radio audience is younger and more likely to be employed and have kids with larger households
NCAA Basketball Tournament audio ads have greater impact than TV because NCAA March Madness listeners are more passionate and sports-engaged
MRI-Simmons reports that on every measure of fandom and passion, the NCAA AM/FM radio audience is more engaged with sports than the NCAA Basketball TV audience.
As NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more engaged, they are more likely to be sports bettors
NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to be sports bettors, according to Nielsen Scarborough. Greater passion and engagement in AM/FM radio play-by-play broadcasts mean a more attentive audience and an outstanding programming environment for marketers and brands.
Versus the TV audience, the NCAA audio audience is far more likely to be in the market for key purchases
Whether kitchen remodeling, switching audio insurance providers, vehicle leasing, purchasing a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, the NCAA AM/FM radio audience is more likely to be in market than the March Madness TV audience.
MRI-Simmons: NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to influence other consumers, extending commercial impact beyond the game
MRI-Simmons defines category influential consumers as deeply familiar with a product category, frequent recommenders across social networks, highly trusted, and word-of-mouth leaders for products and services. Those viewing and listening to the NCAA March Madness are indexed to the U.S. population.
Across an array of different purchase categories, NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to be product category influential than TV viewers.
Nielsen: NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio audiences surge with significant incremental reach
Using Portable People Meter data, Nielsen conducted an special analysis of 2022-2023 Westwood One NCAA audiences and found they accumulate incremental reach each and every week of the season.
Westwood One’s NCAA broadcasts fit into people’s busy lives. Listeners have to go to the mall to pick up their child. They are running errands or returning from a trip to visit relatives. In the car, AM/FM radio play-by-play broadcasts are the “best available screen.”
The NCAA on Westwood One is a massive reach machine. Over the entire regular season, Westwood One’s NCAA play-by-play reach grows by over 50X between week one and ten.
This massive reach accumulation kicks into overdrive during March Madness. Nielsen’s analysis reveals Westwood One’s NCAA coverage reaches 20 million Americans across the season.
30% of March Madness fans listen to Westwood One’s audio coverage
Among 18-34s, Westwood One’s audio coverage outreaches television
Westwood One NCAA March Madness audio reaches fans away from home
Outside of the home, NCAA audio trumps video at work, in the car, and in some other place.
MARU/Matchbox: Adding Westwood One’s NCAA audio to the March Madness TV plan generates incremental reach and amplified frequency
- MARU/Matchbox: Compared to NCAA March Madness TV viewers, AM/FM radio listeners are far more engaged
- As NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more engaged, they are more likely to be sports bettors
- AM/FM radio’s increased sports engagement means greater advertising effectiveness and impact
- MRI-Simmons: NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to influence other consumers, extending commercial impact beyond the game
- Nielsen Scarborough: The NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio audience is younger and more likely to be employed and have kids in bigger households versus the NCAA March Madness TV audience
- MRI-Simmons: NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio audiences deliver consumers who are in the market across key consumer categories
- Nielsen: NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio audiences surge with significant incremental reach
- One-third of March Madness fans are reached via Westwood One’s audio coverage; Among 18-34s, Westwood One’s broadcasts beat TV in reach
View or download the 2024 NCAA Listening Report for advertisers:
View or download the 2024 NCAA Listening Report for affiliates:
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.