The culmination of the NCAA Men’s Basketball season may be known as March Madness, but it’s not a mad time at all. In fact, it’s a very happy time for fans, who celebrate with beer, wings and pizza and join friends and co-workers in friendly wagers and bracket competitions.
While NCAA Men’s Basketball is not quite as popular as professional basketball or college football, it still has a large following in the U.S. with 58% of the adult population interested, according to Nielsen Sports Sponsorlink. And fans often share that passion for the buzzer beater and bracket busting moments by viewing with others at bars, restaurants, the gym, etc.
In 2018, this type of out-of-home (OOH) viewership brought double digit lifts to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament from the first round through the national title game, peaking during the Final 4 round. And younger fans were driving this more social viewing: The 18-34 demographic was most likely to view games in an OOH location during the tournament.
When it comes to places where OOH television viewing is popular (i.e., at the gym, a restaurant/bar or the airport), you will find that NCAA Men’s Basketball fans spend more time in these locations compared to the general population. In fact, these fans are 89% more likely to have gone to a sports bar in the last 30 days.
Whether fans go out with friends to watch the games or stay at home, March Madness aficionados will be well stocked with snacks to celebrate. Nielsen’s FanLinks connects actual household purchase data to reported fan behaviors and shows households with an avid NCAA Men’s College Basketball fan are more likely to buy chewing gum, popcorn, cheese puffs and tortilla chips than the general population.
College basketball fans also have many more hobbies and interests beyond the game—good news for advertisers looking to connect with them. Top interests include cooking, online shopping, video gaming, lawn and garden care and home improvements.
Selection Sunday is March 17 and NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament ends with the Championship Game on April 8 in Minneapolis.