March Madness TV Streaming Trends: How We Watch the Big Dance 

The Madness has returned. 

After last year’s Covid-induced cancellation of sportsthe NCAA men’s basketball tournament has made a welcome returnAs America’s #1 TV streaming platform, Roku is monitoring the way both TV streaming and traditional linear TV viewing of this year’s tournament has changed relative to 2019.1 We find that though many of the teams in the tournament are familiar, the way we’re watching the games has changed dramatically. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

TV Streaming Audiences for the Games Are Younger and Getting Larger 

  • TV streaming audiences reach increased by 85% Comparing 2019 to 2021 on Roku devices, household reach of TV streaming channels carrying the first rounds of NCAA Tournament games during the games increased by 85%; hours grew 74%. 

  • By comparison, traditional linear TV reached declined dramatically. Reach among adults 18+ declined by 24%. 


61% of 2019 traditional linear TV viewers did not return for 2021. 

  • Migration from traditional linear TV to TV streaming continued: More than 1 in 5 (22.6%) of 2019 traditional linear TV viewers of the first rounds streamed a channel carrying the 2021 tournament during time of gameplay 

  • Compared to the average TV streaming household, traditional linear households were 17% more likely to contain someone 65+, and the share of traditional linear TV householdcontaining someone 65+ increased by 19% 

Most Popular Games and Most Active Ad Markets for TV Streaming 

  • The most popular game for traditional linear TV viewers: The Round 2 match up of LSU vs. Michigan (25.8% of tournament viewers tuned in). The top-reaching Round 1 game was Wisconsin vs. North Carolina, with 20.5% tune-in. 

  • States that observed a double digit increase in programmatic ad opportunities on Roku had teams that advanced to the Sweet 16 and one that came *this* close: 

  • Alabama: 33% 
  • Arkansas: 20% 
  • Oregon: 19%  
  • Florida: 16.5% (The Gators lost by 3 points to Oral Roberts University in a major Round 2 upset) 

According to OneView, Roku’s ad platform built for TV streaming, Roku claimed more share of programmatic ad opportunities than any other TV streaming device for the First Four play-in games plus Rounds 1 and 2 of this year’s tournament, and we’ll continue to track viewership trends until the one shining moment in which a champion has been crowned 

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