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Measurement March Madness Produces Fresh NCAA Viewing Stats

Johnny Davis #1 of the Wisconsin Badgers drives to the basket during the first half of the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Kohl Center on March 06, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. Nebraska defeated Wisconsin 74-73.
Turner Sports and CBS Sports tested measurement companies during the NCAA men's basketball tournament (Image credit: John Fisher/Getty Images)

In a March Madness for measurement companies, Turner Sports and CBS Sports brought in iSpot.tv, VideoAmp and Comscore to measure their NCAA men’s basketball tournament coverage.

The three potential alternatives to Nielsen turned up some fresh insights into viewers behavior and trends.

VideoAmp said that 47% of all households watched the tournament. iSpot found that the tournament generated 8.6 times more ad impressions that the No. 2 show, which was Good Morning America.

Also: North Carolina-Duke Draws Most Final Four Viewers Since 2017

Linear and streaming households watched an average of 16.91 games during the tournament.

Because the alternative measurement companies aim to provide cross-platform viewing data, some interesting observations about streaming emerged.

Comscore found that one-third of new households that did not watch in 2019 viewed on streaming platforms during the tournament in 2022.

Linear homes drove most viewing, but home that watch on both streaming and linear significantly over-indexed on time spent, accounting for 19% of total time spent viewing the games, VideoAmp said.

For advertisers, iSpot calculated that the NCAA tournament totaled 1.3 times more impressions than the Olympics. And Comscore said social engagement levels peaked at the beginning of the tournament and then again with the Sweet 15, with 56 million social actions made during the tournament.

Both Paramount, parent of CBS Sports, and Discovery, parent of Turner Sports, are exploring using alternative measurement data as potential currencies in the upfront. Traditionally providing currencies has been Nielsen’s role, but after losing its accreditation from the Media Rating Council, Nielsen is vulnerable to competition as it ramps up its own Nielsen One system for cross-platform measurement of content and advertising.

iSpot performed a similar test for NBCU during last year's Summer Olympics and in the first quarter when NBC air the Olympics and the Super Bowl. ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.