Samba TV: 21% More Households Watched Women’s College Basketball National Championship Game Than the Men’s

More U.S. households (12.2 million) watched the women’s championship game, Iowa vs. (winner) South Carolina,  during this year’s March Madness than the men’s (10 million) game between Purdue vs. (winner) UConn, according to new data from Samba TV, which tracks viewership through smart-TV data and ranks streaming programs based on U.S. household reach.

Every demo group saw a higher number of viewers watching the women’s championship game than last year. However, certain groups comprised a higher fraction of the viewing audience than last year. The highest increase was among Hispanic households, with that demo group comprising 20% more of the women’s championship audience than last year.

Every round of the women’s tournament saw increased viewership compared to 2023. The highest increase was during the Elite Eight, as another hyped showdown between LSU and Iowa took place, with that round drawing more than double the viewership of last year. The LSU vs. Iowa game was the tournament’s third most-watched game, outpacing the final four match-ups between NC State and South Carolina.

The women’s championship game viewership was up 62% year-over-year, while the men’s championship was down 8% year-over-year. In fact, every round of the men’s tournament, except the Sweet Sixteen, saw a year-over-year decline, with the Elite Eight dropping by the highest margin (12%), in sharp contrast to the women’s event.

Overall, 24.6 Million U.S. households watched any game of the women’s tournament, while 35.3 million U.S. households watched the men’s tournament. Viewership of the women’s tournament was up 41% year-over-year, while the men’s tournament was down 2%.

“The data underscores how this has been a watershed year for women’s sports, as it continues to be on the rise with audiences and makes for an exciting new opportunity for advertisers to reach audiences at scale,” Cole Strain, VP and head of R&D at Samba TV, said in a statement.

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Roku Scored Big at Final Four March Madness

As a leading gateway linking consumers with streaming video on the television, Roku April 7 disclosed final data from the just-concluded NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that saw TV streaming reach increase by 86.6% and hours watched increase by 75.4% compared with 2019.

By comparison, nearly 60% of 2019 traditional linear TV tournament viewers on Roku did not return to traditional TV to watch in 2021. The tournament is the latest example of consumers opting to view live sports via streaming after a pandemic induced pause.

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Roku tracked domestic households using a branded Internet-connected television that streamed channels carrying tournament games during time of gameplay. The reach of national semifinal viewing of UCLA vs. Gonzaga and Baylor vs. Houston via TV streaming skyrocketed 86.2% since 2019, while hours viewing increased by 86.1%. Streaming households also saw younger viewers as 80.4% of TV streaming was by people between the ages of 18 and 49.

“Nearly six out of 10 traditional linear-TV viewers did not return to watch this year’s [March Madness] on traditional TV. This is the latest example of the transformation shift occurring in TV viewing behavior,” Kristina Shepard, national brand team lead at Roku, said in a statement. “What we’re seeing is reflective of a change taking place across all the major sports as they returned from a pandemic induced pause. Marketers looking to continue reaching mass audiences through live sports must shift their focus towards TV streaming.”

Indeed, through the Final Four (April 3), traditional linear-TV viewers over the age of 18 declined about 23%, while 25% of all traditional linear-TV viewers of the tournament in 2019 streamed games in 2021 on Roku devices.

Not surprisingly, the higher the seed of the team in a school’s television market, the higher the percentage of households that tuned in.

Spokane, Wash., home to Gonzaga, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, saw 46.6% of households stream via Roku connected device. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas (home to Baylor, the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament) saw 26.5%; followed by University of Houston (a regional two-seed) at 22.9%; while Los Angeles (UCLA, an 11-seed) tracked 19.5%.

The average Spokane household watched 13 hours through the Final Four, an increase of 3.25 hours per household in 2019. Los Angeles households watched an average of 7.2 hours, up 1.8 hours per household from 2019.

The average Spokane household watched 54 more minutes of the UCLA/Gonzaga game vs the average Los Angeles household (in spite of a very close game that ended with a three-point shot in overtime). Los Angeles viewers tuned out more than their Spokane rivals after the ending: 18.4% of Los Angeles households that watched the game tuned out five minutes after Gonzaga’s game-winning shot; 7.4% of Spokane households tuned out during the same period. Finally, 44.7% of Spokane households tuned out when all coverage ended vs. 21.6% of LA households.


Roku: March Madness Streaming Up 88%

TV Streaming continues to score big during the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Nearly 60% traditional linear TV viewers did not return to watch the tournament via traditional TV, while TV streaming reach shot up 88% and hours viewed spiked 89%, compared to 2019, according to new data from Roku.

“After a year without [March Madness], fans were eager to welcome the games back and they did so through TV streaming,” Kristina Shepard, National Brand Team Lead at Roku, said in a statement. “The overwhelming viewership turnout we’re seeing on TV streaming showcases that streaming not only delivers audiences at scale, but it has become the preferred way for fans watch live sport events.”

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Specifically, Roku said TV streaming reach during Sweet 16 games was up 95% vs. 2019, while TV streaming reach during Elite Eight games was up 90% vs. 2019.

TV streaming captured viewership across the age spectrum. Shift in age distribution occurred at both extremes — 2021 streaming households were +14% more likely than 2019 streaming households to contain someone 18-24 and +22% more likely to contain someone 65+.

Indeed, Roku found that 59% of households that watched any of the rounds through the Elite Eight have not watched the tournament on traditional linear TV in 2021.

Roku said younger audiences continue to pivot from traditional linear TV, with TV reach for persons 18+ down 24% through the Elite Eight. Traditional linear TV reach for Sweet 16 was down 34% vs. 2019, while linear TV reach for Elite Eight was down 32% vs. 2019.

Users who did watch on linear, watched fewer games. The average traditional linear TV household has watched 6.5 games and 5.1 hours, vs. 6.66 games and 4.5 hours through the 2019 Elite Eight.

Roku: College Basketball Streaming Madness Increased 85%

With the 2021 College Basketball National Championship Tournament down to the Final Four, Roku has released new data that found TV streaming audiences increased by 85% throughout March Madness while traditional linear TV viewership is down 61% from 2019.
Ahead of the First Four (rounds one and two), Roku saw record users streaming games on its platform — underscoring the notion that TV streaming is growing in popularity and rivaling broadcast in viewership.

Comparing 2019 to 2021 on Roku, household reach of TV streaming channels carrying the first rounds of tournament games increased 85%, while hours streamed grew 74%. First four reach grew 57%, while the first round grew 83%. Second-round reach grew 97%, with the first and second rounds’ combined reach growing 89%; hours streamed grew 91%.

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The Final Four on April 3 will feature Gonzaga vs. UCLA, and Baylor vs. Houston, with the winners playing for the National Championship on April 5. The games will be streamed across TBS, CBS, and TNT

  • On TBS:
  • On CBS:
    • Paramount+
    • Available in select markets with a subscription to AT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, and YouTube TV
  • On TNT:
    • March Madness Live (cable or satellite subscription required)
    • With a subscription to AT&T TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV
  • On truTV:
    • March Madness Live (cable or satellite subscription required)
    • With a subscription to AT&T TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV


Tubi Ups ‘March Madness’ With Hoops Docs/Game Replays

NCAA’s college basketball post-season tournament (“March Madness”) officially starts on March 18. Fox Corp.’s free ad-supported streaming TV platform (FAST) Tubi is rolling out a line-up of documentaries and Fox Sports replays ahead of the tournament. 

Documentaries / Docuseries:

“CampusLore Live Basketball” (2020) – Hear from former and current NBA stars each week as they talk about their NCAA days and offer insight and analysis on today’s college game.1000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story (2014) – Cory Weissman (David Henrie), a student at Gettysburg College, returns to the basketball court after suffering a stroke.”Life Without Basketball” (2019) – A controversial court ruling forces a Muslim American college basketball star to choose between her faith and her dreams to play professionally.

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“LeBron James: King of the Court” (2020) — The legendary basketball star showed promise back in high school, before going on to make a name for himself as one of the greatest in the game.

“Manchild: The Schea Cotton Story” (2020) — Celebrated for his basketball skills as a teenager, it seemed Schea Cotton had the world ahead of him. But things didn’t go as he imagined.”Ray Jr’s What If?: The Damon Stringer Story” (2020) – Known as Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in the early 90’s, this is the story of a talented high school athlete who faced many highs and lows.“Something to Cheer About” (2002) – This powerful sports documentary tells the story of the Crispus Attucks Tigers, the first all-black high school basketball team to win a US state championship.

Big Game Replays:

“Fox Sports College Basketball Classics: Big East” (2020) — A compilation of basketball classics from the Big East.”Fox Sports College Basketball Classics: BIG TEN” (2020) — Relive the biggest Big Ten matchup classics with Michigan St. at Indiana (2019), Iowa at Michigan (2019), Wisconsin at Ohio St. (2020), and more.”Fox Sports College Basketball Classics: PAC-12″ (2020) — Relive the biggest matchups of the Pac-12 Conference with UCLA at Washington (2020), USC at Arizona St. (2020), Stanford at Oregon (2020), and more.“Big Ten Classics: Basketball Championship Games” (2020) — Sit down, relax, and enjoy some of the best, most intense, and memorable moments from the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Championship games.”Big Ten Classics: Michigan vs. Michigan State” (2020) — The epic match-up between the Spartans and the Wolverines produced some of the most exciting, talked-about moments in college basketball.

Black Thursday: Coronavirus Fears Shutter Amusement Parks, TV Productions, ‘March Madness’ as Dow Suffers Biggest Drop Since 1987

In a bad week things got decidedly worse March 12 as the Dow suffered its worst decline since 1987 as investors dumped stocks with growing fears about the escalating coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 125,000 people globally and killed almost 5,000.

In Hollywood, increased numbers of television series productions halted work in an effort to safeguard cast and crew against the potential spread of the virus. Studios pushed back release dates for A Quiet Place II and Fast and Furious 9, among other titles.

TV productions halted included Apple’s “The Morning Show” and “Little America,” Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” The CW’s “Riverdale,” CBS’s “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor,” among others.

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The Walt Disney Co. elected to temporarily close Disneyland and California Adventure, a move it has already done in China, Hong Kong and Japan. Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., remain open. Citing an “abundance of caution,” Universal Studios closed its theme parks as well.

In sports, Major League Soccer and the NHL suspended play nationwide, while Major League Baseball halted spring training. The NCAA decided to terminate the $900 million annual “March Madness” men’s national basketball championship tournament before it even started. The governing body of intercollegiate athletics had initially elected to limit the tournament to participating teams, school officials and families.

It took a further step the day after the NBA suspended play indefinitely after a player on the Utah Jazz test positive for the virus.

“Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships,” the organization said in a statement.

The canceling of March Madness came after conferences such as the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big West and Big 12 announced that their respective tournaments were off.

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“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said.

Meanwhile, the Dow index lost all gains from 2018 with the S&P 500 dropping 7% after the opening bell, which caused an automatic 15-minute trading halt on Wall Street.


NCAA ‘March Madness’ To Be Played in Empty Arenas

In a major development, the NCAA March 11 announced that its forthcoming National Championship Basketball Tournament, a.k.a. “March Madness,” will be played in largely empty arenas as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The tournament — which brought in $1 billion of revenue during the 2016-17 school year, most of which was generated by the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on broadcast, pay-TV and streaming — is the highest-profile event in the United States to be impacted by the coronavirus.

The NCAA said it was assessing the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and its COVID-19 advisory panel.

As a precaution, Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA and the NCAA board of governors, made the decision to conduct the upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.

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“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” Emmert said in a statement. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”

The World Health Organization has called the coronavirus a pandemic as more than 120,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease globally and the death toll stands above 4,300. In the United States there are more than 31 deaths and about 1,000 people diagnosed with the virus.

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