Record Ad Sales for March Madness

CBS and Turner Broadcasting say they're virtually sold out of commercials for March Madness and have generated record ad revenue on both TV and digital.

The two companies share the tournament and jointly manage ad sales. This year the championship game for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament will air on Turner for the first time, but they say the move to cable didn't affect their projections.

"We basically held our estimates," said John Bogusz, executive VP for sports ad sales at CBS. "We don't sell the championship game in isolation. We're very comfortable with our ratings projections. [Viewers] will find the championship game."

Prices for ads on TV were up in the mid- to high-single digit range and revenues are up double digits because there’s extra inventory to sell this year, including a second hour to the tournament selection show.

Although it’s still possible to squeeze in a few more sponsors, “we’re well above our total revenue projection goals,” Bogusz said.

On digital, revenues are up 20%. Jon Diament, executive VP of ad sales for Turner Sports, said the digital ads were bought mostly by the same group of advertisers, but that they would reach an audience that was mostly younger and mostly live.

Diament said the NCAA tournament was the type of high-rated high profile event that is in strong demand from advertisers. He pointed to CBS’ Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star weekend as recent examples.

He added that the NCAA’s corporate marketing program helped generate revenue from official sponsors led by AT&T, Coca-Cola and Capital One.

A few new advertisers have signed up for big packages during the tournament, including a couple of automakers who couldn’t be named.

SoFi, the financial services company that also advertised during the Super Bowl, is in the tournament. Also signing up is the Hilton hotel chain.

Jon Lafayette

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.