Programmatic advertisers have long relied on major sporting events as a platform to get their campaigns out to large groups of consumers. Sports viewership in March and April of each year is punctuated by the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s and women’s national college basketball tournaments, as well as the start of the Major League Baseball season.
Widely referred to as “March Madness,” the NCAA basketball men’s and women’s tournaments are hosted in cities across the United States throughout the month of March involving highly competitive games from the nation’s best college basketball teams. Last year, 18.1M people watched the 2022 men’s national championship game, which ranked as the third most watched college basketball game in cable history according to SP Global. Additionally, food and drink sales increase significantly during tournament time, showing a 19% increase in beer sales and 23% increase in wings orders during the tournament.
Spring also brings the start of the Major League Baseball season. With MLB Opening Day on March 30, advertisers aiming to access baseball and college basketball fanatics alike are already beginning to identify audience segments who will be tuning in for this exciting time of the sports season.
However in order to effectively capitalize on these events, advertisers must first understand the demographics of the audiences tuning in.
March Madness Fan Demographics
The March Madness basketball tournaments solicit millions of viewers every year, not only because of the great athletic spectacle, but also because the men’s tournament alone features 68 colleges and universities from across the United States, drawing in at minimum 68 alumni groups proudly cheering for their team to win. For some context on the popularity of this tournament, 149 million NCAA tournament brackets were filled out in 2019, compared to 156 million ballots cast in the presidential election.
While a common assumption is that sports viewership is dominated by men, statistics show a different picture. In 2021, women represented 43% of the average TV audience for the women’s college basketball title game and 39% for the men’s title game. Additionally, women make up 42% of the overall college sports fan base and nearly half (48%) of the social media followers of college sports.
MLB Fan Demographics
The MLB’s fan base is estimated to be more than 170 million people, and the average age of MLB viewers in 2016 was 57 according to Sports Business Journal. Additionally, 23% of U.S. adults attended one or more home games in 2018. In 2022 avid interest in the MLB was highest among Hispanic fans (22%) compared to other ethnic groups.
While the known MLB TV audience tends to skew toward an older demographic, social media followers of baseball paint a different picture. The median age of followers across the MLB’s social media platforms is 25-34 years old. On Instagram, 71% of MLB followers are younger than 35, while 61% of Instagram’s overall U.S. user base is younger than 35. The results are similar on Twitter and Facebook, with 66% of MLB’s Twitter followers and 63% of Facebook followers younger than 35.
Segments available in BDEX’s taxonomy
Audiences that tune into the March Madness tournaments are among the most granular audiences available in BDEX’s taxonomy. As you can see below, within the audience class of “Sports Enthusiasts,” there are specific segments pulled from TiVo’s audience data for college basketball, and more specifically “March Madness.”
Advertisers can also access segments of audiences who have attended a regular season college basketball game, or that were ‘very interested’ in college basketball in the last 12 months.
Segments are also available for audiences specifically interested in the Women’s college basketball tournament, and watched the Women’s Basketball National Championship game on ESPN as shown below:
Similarly, advertisers can get increasingly granular in targeting campaigns with audiences interested in tuning into MLB games. As shown below, BDEX’s taxonomy contains audiences who have attended regular season MLB baseball games, and audiences who were ‘very interested’ in Major League Baseball in the last 12 months.
BDEX’s taxonomy offers a host of ‘Sports Enthusiast’ categories, including audiences enthused about the MLB, MLB Playoffs and the MLB World Series. Advertisers can also access audiences who have visited MLB.com in the last 30 days.
To browse through BDEX’s full list of segments and discover new audiences, explore the BDEX Taxonomy here.