Men’s college basketball brings in more ad money than the Super Bowl, and the games are moving to the PC.

There’s a reason Dick Vitale is always smiling like a maniac.

He’s part of the cash-earning juggernaut known as the NCAA college basketball tournament, aka March Madness. Ad spending on the games is expected to pass half a billion dollars this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Over the course of all the games, March Madness brings in more ad money than the Super Bowl. Over $2.73 billion has been spent on network TV advertising during the tournament this decade.

In fact, this year’s March Madness ad spending will be 70% higher than it was in 2000.

Over the past seven years, the top 10 advertisers in the tournament have spent almost $1.1 billion, according to Jon Swallen of TNS Media Intelligence, accounting for about 40% of total network TV ad revenues from the event.

The games are branching out into other channels as well — both the broadcasts themselves and the marketing meant to reach basketball fans.

For the second year, all games from the first three rounds of the tournament are being streamed live over the Internet for free. Ad units on the Webcasts will include billboard displays around the perimeter of the viewing window and video ads during TV commercial breaks.

This is a safe move for broadcaster CBS. According to a study by the Associated Press and Ipsos Insight, online video does not compete with TV viewing time. Only 10% of online video watchers said they watch less TV due to watching online video.

Last year Cingular ran TV spots about their tournament-related interactive service for mobile phones. The carrier also ran ads for a sweepstakes for a Final Four weekend and a chance to step onto the court and make a basket for $5 million.

Finding sports fans on the Web isn’t hard. When ESPN asks viewers "Which Sportscenter do you watch?", some say "All of them." These devoted fans have made ESPN the top online sports destination for US Internet users, according to Nielsen//NetRatings and the Center for Media Research.

Via eMarketer

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