March Madness 2021 Championship Recap: Insights From the Finals

Now that the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament has crowned a champion – take a bow, Baylor University – we have some key insights on viewership and audiences for marketers interested in engaging this passionate audience.

Our data comes from Roku ACR, TV streaming, Nielsen, and OneView, the ad buying platform built for TV streaming. Comparing the 2021 tournament to 2019 (the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19) resulted in some important takeaways:

Traditional Linear TV Viewership Declined

Based on Roku ACR data, we estimate that:

  • Throughout this year’s tournament, reach on traditional linear TV declined by approximately 22%.
  • In the championship game, which saw Baylor defeat Gonzaga, traditional linear TV reach among the key demographic of adults 18 and older fell by about 18%.
  • That approximately 81% of households that watched the championship game in 2019 on traditional linear TV did not return to traditional linear TV to watch the tournament in 2021. 

TV Streaming on Roku Grew

  • On the Roku platform, TV streaming household reach increased by 87% and hours viewed increased by 75%. This includes streaming of channels on the Roku platform that carried tournament games during time of gameplay.
  • Household reach of channels carrying the championship game during time of gameplay increased 82%; streaming hours increased 69%.
  • For the total tournament, nearly 26% of Roku TV households that watched the 2019 tournament on traditional linear TV went on to stream channels carrying the 2021 tournament during time of gameplay
  • TV streaming increases were largest in the markets that were home to this year’s finalists. Roku streamers in Spokane (Gonzaga territory) grew by 150% vs. 2019, while Baylor’s home market of Waco-Temple-Bryan increased by 112%.

Hometown Fans Will Watch Their Teams... But They Start To Tune Out When Their Teams Get Blown Out

Again, based on Roku ACR data, we estimate that:

  • Nearly half of Spokane, Gonzaga’s home market, tuned in for the championship game on traditional linear TV.  
  • Households in Spokane who watched via traditional linear TV were 55% more likely to tune in than homes in Baylor’s home market (Waco-Temple-Bryan).
  • Gonzaga fans tuned out early as their championship prospects waned. One third of Spokane households stopped watching the game via traditional linear TV in the last 20 minutes of coverage.

The data are clear: college basketball fans are flocking to TV streaming. Roku can help advertisers reach and engage these fans before, during, and after the game.

If you’d like to reach and engage the large and growing audience for TV streaming Contact Us to get started.