NCAA Sponsors Dominate Top March Madness Ad Buyers

The annual collegiate basketball tournament, commonly known as “March Madness,” has evolved into “Marketing Madness.” The NCAA has successfully monetized the sporting event through media rights fees and corporate sponsorship payments while creating a platform for marketers to reap benefits from advertising and promotional programs anchored around the games.

The tournament typically contains TV messages from 85-90 different companies, with a small proportion holding dominant positions. Each year the top ten consistently account for more than one-third of total spending. In 2015 this select group invested $444 million to reach NCAA viewers.


The top ten is also notable for the number of NCAA corporate sponsors it includes. Seventeen companies currently have marketing and promotional arrangements with the NCAA and are granted a wide variety of benefits, including certain category exclusivity around the use of NCAA logos, marks, designations and event tickets. CBS and Turner negotiate and manage these financial agreements for the NCAA. All 17 sponsors purchased TV air time in the 2015 basketball tournament and accounted for more than 40 percent of total ad spending.

For further insights into advertising during March Madness, read our full report.

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