TV, Live Streaming Score Big During March Madness
Viewership stats from the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament are in, and as it turns out, the Tar Heels aren’t the only ones who walked away with a victory. According to Nielsen, the tournament averaged 10.8 million viewers and broke records in digital consumption, thanks to Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ exclusive coverage of the “madness.” Moreover, the tournament has been recognized as the second most-watched since 1994 on TBS, TNT, truTV, and CBS — an increase over last year’s 9.3 million viewers. The growing success of the tournament is a true testament to the expanded offerings now available in live streaming, TV Everywhere, social media and even virtual reality experiences, as sports fans across the country eagerly take up these new and unique ways to engage with their favorite college teams and athletes.
The large audience increases started with the early games. Through the first Sunday, the games averaged around 9.3 million viewers, making that first week the most-watched since 1993. Meanwhile, the Final Four was the second most-watched Final Four since 1998 averaging 16.8 million viewers, and up more than 44 percent from last year.
NCAA March Madness Live set a new record, garnering 98 million live video streams throughout the tournament, as did the National Championship game on Monday which reigned in 4.4 million live video streams as North Carolina defeated Gonzaga. This should come as no surprise, given that fans had access to a record 15 platforms this year, including Amazon’s Fire TV, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Microsoft Xbox One, to name a few. Turner’s iStreamPlanet provided the live streaming infrastructure for all the games through NCAA March Madness Live.
The official March Madness social media handles were also at an all-time high with over 74 million engagements throughout the duration of the two and a half weeks.
If this year’s tournament is any indication, sports television is only just gaining momentum, and there’s no telling where and how we might watch the event five years from now. But as long as the madness on the court continues, you can bet audiences will find ways to tune in to enjoy one of the best months in sports.