March Madness Boosts Schools’ Social Media Buzz

While there can only be one national champion in men’s and women’s NCAA college basketball, the annual March Madness tournament has made winners of the schools competing in each event.

New data from Conviva found that since day one of the tournament, the 64 dedicated women’s college basketball social media accounts have gained more than 110,000 new followers; featured 5,715 posts and videos; generated more than 3.4 million engagements; received 1.9 million views on Facebook videos; realized a 300% increase in average engagements per video across all teams compared to regular season averages; and saw a 100% increase in cross-platform engagement rate for all teams compared to regular season averages.

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On the men’s side, across all teams in the tournament, total cross-platform engagements were more than 10.6 million. Facebook was a big driver in viewership as total views across all the teams measured were 4.4 million. Throughout the tournament, the men’s basketball social accounts measured have grown in aggregate by 250,000 followers each.

Arkansas is the only team to break one million cross-platform engagements in the tournament so far, followed by Michigan and Syracuse with 867,000 and 664,000 engagements, respectively. The Sweet 16 was very sweet for Oral Roberts. Even though they lost their round of 16 bid by just two points to fellow social media titans Arkansas, Oral Roberts saw a 4332% increase in engagements (251,000) per post versus their regular season. Pre-tournament favorite Gonzaga has seen an engagement increase of 149% during the tournament compared to the regular season.

“Many fans are taking to social media to follow and support their favorite—or new favorite—teams,” read the report.

Roku Dominates ‘March Madness’ Streaming

With the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, readying for the Sweet 16 elimination rounds, sports fans are increasingly streaming games via standalone media devices and connected televisions. The opening round set new records with more than a billion minutes streamed across 32 games in just two days, according to new data from Conviva.

The tournament thus far reveals an ongoing trend streaming games on the big TV screen. Historically the first day of round one sees the most viewership. This held true this year as day one netted 15% more time spent streaming than day two, according to the report.

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Streaming on television increased significantly in the first two rounds to 68% share of time spent in round one, from 48% in 2019 and just 41% in the opening days of 2018. While streaming games on the PC lost market share, the increase in TV consumption comes primarily at the expense of mobile viewing, which decreased to less than half the share held during the previous March Madness. The report attributed this to the pandemic-trend of in-home viewing and the overall, multiyear trend of increased streaming via televisions.

More than 40% of the tournament thus far has been streamed on TVs through Roku devices, followed by Amazon Fire TV (26%), Samsung TV (10%), and Apple TV with 8% share. LG TV and Xbox each tallied 4% share, with Chromecast picking up 3%. Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, Android TV, and PlayStation lagged behind the field with under 2% share of viewing time.

Conviva reported that social media engagements per post rose an average of 164% for teams in round one as compared to the regular season. Teams tallied 3 million total cross-platform engagements over just two days in the first round of the tournament, with Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Illinois taking the top three spots for total cross-platform engagements.

March Madness often vaults unexpected teams into national view. This year it’s Oral Roberts with 15 times the number of social media engagements per post versus the regular season, and leading in cross-platform, Twitter, and Instagram engagement rates.

Hoop Players Confused by Packaged Media

SAN ANTONIO – Heading into the NCAA men’s college basketball Final Four weekend, players from competing schools were given a variety of swag items, including movie DVDs – without digital codes, of course.

Sports-themed discs such as I, Tonya, Creed, Goal! and even pre-order vouchers for Black Panther elicited confusion among some players accustomed to a world of cell phones, streaming video and social media.

“I’ll give [the discs] to my parents,” said Villanova’s Eric Paschall. “I think they have a player.”

Indeed, players from Kansas, Michigan and Loyola Chicago remembered watching DVDs as kids, or even as recently as high school. Often renting from local video stores or Blockbuster – both fading retail memories in an age of Netflix.

A NCAA representative said DVD and Blu-ray titles were given out for entertainment and sponsor marketing, while limiting liability to the student-player’s amateur status.

Following well-publicized scandals involving college athletes trading bowl jerseys and autographs for tattoos and cash – both in violation of NCAA rules, officials considered packaged media a safe bet.

“I understand the trade-in value for a DVD movie online is less than a dollar,” said the NCAA rep. “These are kids with good intentions. But, we felt reassured regardless.”

Happy April Fool’s Day