2021 Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight TV  Streaming Insights 

With our brackets officially busted – thank you, Illinois and Michigan – we’ve turned our attention to how audiences for the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament have evolved since the last tournament in 2019In short: TV streaming audiences are growing, traditional linear TV audiences are shrinking and getting older, and the programmatic marketplace is getting more competitive as the tournament progresses. 

Just as we did last week, we’re looking at Roku data on TV streaming and traditional linear TV viewing, and we have sourced programmatic marketplace data via OneView, Roku’s ad buying platform built for TV streaming. 

Here’s what you need to know about the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds of the annual event known as The Big Dance and how they compare to these rounds in 2019 

The TV Streaming Audience Continues to Grow 

  • Comparing 2019 to 2021 on Roku devices, household reach of TV streaming channels carrying the games during the time of gameplay through the Elite Eight increased by 88%, and streaming hours grew 89%. 

  • People are shifting to TV streaming from traditional linear TV: More than 1 in 5 (20.9%) of 2019 traditional linear TV viewers of the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight on Roku TVs streamed a channel on the Roku platform carrying the 2021 tournament during time of gameplay. 

  • TV streaming audience are expanding at the demographic extremes: 2021 streaming active accounts have been 14% more likely than 2019 streaming accounts to be associated with households (HHs) that contain someone 18-24 and 22% more likely to contain someone 65+. 


Traditional TV Audiences Have Gotten Smaller and Older 

  • Traditional linear TV reach foradults 18 and over who watched gameplay has decreased approximately 24% through the Elite Eight.  
  • Relative to 2019, 2021 traditional linear TV audiences have aged: Viewing has seen gains in share of traditional linear TV HHs containing someone 35-44 (+8.5%) and 65+ (+19.5%). 

  • Majority of 2019 traditional linear TV viewers have not watched the tournament via traditional linear TV in 2021Nearly 60% of 2019 traditional linear TV Roku HHs that watched any of the rounds through the Elite Eight have not watched the tournament on traditional linear TV in 2021. 

Programmatic Marketplace Highlights 

Here we compare the 2021 tournament’s 1st & 2nd rounds (3/19 – 3/22) to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight (3/27 – 3/30): 

  • According to OneView, Roku’s ad buying platform built for TV streaming, Roku devices saw the biggest increase in programmatic ad opportunitiescompared to other TV streaming devices. 

  • Elite Eight games saw 1.3% more video ad opportunities during time of gameplay through the Elite Eight. This is despite the fact that Sweet 16 games took place on the weekend and Elite Eight games took place on weekdays.  

  • The market became more competitive on the days of the Elite Eight games.On the days of the Elite Eight, the win rate, or the ratio of impressions bid upon to the impressions an advertiser won in auction, declined by 3.5%. 

  • States that observed 20%+ increase in spend within Roku are home to top tourney teams: Alabama (58%), Texas (35%)and Michigan (21%) 

These insights show that now is the time to reach and engage a fast-growing audience in TV streaming. If you’d like to get your brand in front of sports viewers before, during, or after the game, regardless of what they watch, contact us to get started.