Match prepared for its comeback with $1 billion on the road

A general view of a “March Madness” logo is seen during practice prior to the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 20, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Patrick Smith | Getty Images

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, called it heartbreaking. WarnerMedia CEO Jeff Zucker said he was sad. Other executives felt similar when discussing the return of the college basketball money-making tournament.

About a year ago, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness men’s tournament was canceled due to Covid-19, which cost the NCAA media rights revenue and further losses from viewing ticket sales. The NCAA said it had insurance for the 2019 tournament that paid out $ 270 million to absorb the blow. There is the same insurance for 2021.

The NCAA is unlikely to postpone the 2021 tournament, which begins Thursday, despite early Covid-19 outbreaks where top programs, including Duke, were no longer battling it out in conference play for a chance to enter. Teams can now spend up to four weeks in an Indianapolis bubble, the location of the 2021 tournament.

Again, the networks are welcoming their return, which McManus says will “look and feel different,” but which is critical to finances.

Here are the numbers to see what you can expect from the tournament:

The $ 1 billion payout

Signage commemorating March Madness and the 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four on March 9, 2021 in Indianapolis, IN.

Brian Spurlock | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

CBS and Turner Sports will work together again to cover the event. McManus said the network would deploy 10 production teams, two more than the network used in 2019.

“It’s an event that is fundamental to CBS Sports,” McManus said last week. “This year it will be more difficult than ever to produce.”

However, this challenge must be overcome as $ 1 billion is at stake.

MediaRadar, an advertising data company, estimates the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament generated television spending for CBS and Turner Sports of $ 1.18 billion. Remember that the networks are paying a little over $ 800 million for the current rights package.

MediaRadar collects data from advertisers through a variety of media channels, including TV and online. The company said the amount was a 15% increase over the event in 2018.

“They are the most profitable play-offs in US sports media rights treaties,” said Dan Cohen, senior vice president of Octagon’s global media rights consulting division.

John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales and marketing for CBS Network, said this year’s ad space was almost sold out with a few units left in Final Four [game one] and a few units left in Final Four two and [the championship game]. “

Bogusz said marketers are spending on exercise programs and expect to reopen with vaccines that will be widely available by May. He said insurance and automotive are two sectors that will fuel ads for the 2021 tournament.

Auto sales plummeted as the pandemic broke out, but early forecasts suggest sales could rise 10% this year. Gastronomy is another area that is expected to grow after a sharp decline.

“It seems that most of the categories challenged during the pandemic, including movies and streaming services, will be back,” added Jon Diament, chief revenue officer of Turner Sports.

Diament said March Madness would see ads for Paramount + and HBO Max to make up for the loss of movie studios that could sit out.

20 million television viewers could tune in

Usually the NCAA tournament does well on the spectator side, and the networks have missed that too.

The NCAA said the March Madness live streaming component had more than 100 million live streams in 2019, a 31% increase over the previous year. But despite cable cutting, television still matters, and CBS will find out if the decline in Covid-19 sports viewers will affect the Final Four.

In 2019, CBS drew around 19 million viewers for the championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech. That was a decrease from the 2017 game with the University of North Carolina and Gonzaga, which featured around 22 million players. McManus said he was not dealing with ratings for this year’s tournament.

“I think if we get a good tournament the ratings will be perfectly fine and advertisers will be happy with the number of men and women seeing their advertisements,” he said.

Bogusz added, “Ratings for college basketball were down slightly this year, but this event is unlike any other. We’ll wait and see how the games play out but we’ve put some inventory aside to keep ours up take care of.” Advertisers if necessary. “

Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) hits the basket against BYU striker Matt Haarms (3) Las during the championship game of the men’s West Coast Conference basketball tournament between the BYU Cougars and the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Orleans Arena on March 9, 2021 Vegas, NV.

Brian Rothmüller | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

47 million were able to place bets

The American Gaming Association estimates that more than 47 million people will be placing bets on this year’s tournament. 17.8 million people are online, up from 5.8 million in 2019.

And chances are Gonzaga is trying to make history.

Gonzaga enters the tournament with a 26-0 record. It’s only the fifth time a team has entered the NCAA men’s tournament undefeated since Indiana did so in 1976 and won the tournament. Only seven schools remained unbeaten and won the title.

Online sports betting company PointsBet took $ 2,850 on Gonzaga to win everything at odds of +350. If the Bulldogs win, that bet would have a total payout of $ 12,825.

BetMGM said Gonzaga had 26.7% of his handle – total amount wagered on bets – around the NCAA tournament, followed by Illinois (11.8%). One of the biggest bets: a bet of $ 2,755 on Illinois at +2,000. The payout is $ 55,100.

FanDuel said two of his biggest bets were a stake of $ 30,000 (payout of $ 126,000) on Baylor to win the tournament and a stake of $ 20,000 (payout of $ 500,000) on West Virginia.

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