top of page

March Madness Audience Scoreboard: AM/FM Listeners Younger, More Engaged Than TV.

With the opening round of NCAA basketball's annual “March Madness” tournament just 10 weeks away, the ad rush is on, and as usual, radio has a strong story to tell based on the findings of several research studies.

“While NCAA March Madness games are available both on TV and AM/FM radio, each broadcast has a very different audience profile,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in Westwood One's weekly blog. “The NCAA Basketball TV audience consists of casual sports fans, [while] the AM/FM radio play-by-play audience is more passionate and engaged. This distinction has a significant impact on advertising effectiveness.”

According to the blog's analysis of MARU/Matchbox's May 2023 survey of more than 900 persons age 18 or older, the active NCAA fan base favors radio. Compared to NCAA March Madness fans overall, AM/FM listeners follow 10% more NCAA Tournament games, are 14% more likely to follow the Tournament through to the finals, and 33% more likely to mute the TV coverage in favor of the radio play-by-play. It's also worth notice that they're 28% more likely to have attended and/or graduated from a NCAA Basketball college, and 32% more likely to consider themselves a “super fan,” as in 8 or higher on 1-to-10 scale.

Nielsen Scarborough's comparison of AM/FM's to TV's March Madness audience shows radio's to be younger, more upscale, more likely to be employed full time, with larger households with one or more children. “This translates into greater passion overall,” Bouvard says.

A radio-to-TV comparison from MRI-Simmons shows how that passion translates to a greater impact for audio advertising. Game listeners on AM/FM radio are significantly more likely than TV viewers to attend sports events, use a sports app on a mobile phone or tablet, purchase licensed college sports clothing, and to be an influential consumer when it comes to sports categories, including sports betting.

“On every measure of fandom and passion, the NCAA AM/FM radio audience is more engaged with sports than the NCAA Basketball TV audience,” Bouvard says. “Greater passion and engagement in AM/FM radio play-by-play broadcasts means a more attentive audience and an outstanding programming environment for marketers and brands.”

That also means, according to Scarborough data, that the NCAA Tournament's radio audience generally has a higher likelihood of making key purchases such as HDTVs, smartphones, and kitchen remodeling, as well as switching auto insurance providers or refinancing a home mortgage. Additional MRI-Simmons research shows how more likely March Madness' AM/FM listeners are to influence other consumers when it comes to restaurants, vacation travel, alcoholic beverages and other categories.

“If you think about your product or your service for your business and your brand, chances are that the NCAA audio audience is going to be more likely to be in the market for what you are selling,” Bouvard says. “Across an array of different purchase categories, NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are [also] more likely to be product category influential than TV viewers.”

MARU/Matchbox's survey finds that the audio coverage of March Madness games scores higher than linear TV among persons 18-34, with a higher percentage using it to follow the tournament (44% vs. 42%). The audio audience outscores TV in the car, at work, or at another place, while very close to TV at home (76% vs. 86%).

“This is a massive and significant audience that is 20 million fans strong across the season,” Bouvard says. “This is an on-the-go audience [with] a significant amount of listening occurring away from home, [and] an upscale audience that is in the market for a tremendous number of categories.”

33 views0 comments
bottom of page