Blog by: George Thomas and Ron Ledgard
Those sitting in the NCAA offices in Indianapolis have to have grins plastered on their mugs.
The reason: this year’s NCAA Tournament continues to astound with ratings. The latest overnights from Thursday’s games show that they probably will remain strong throughout.
According to a Turner Sports news release, the tournament enjoyed its highest rating ever for a Sweet 16 Thursday. Ratings were up 30 percent over 2014, according to Nielsen.
What’s more impressive is that the CBS and TBS, which aired different games, each delivered impressive numbers. Ratings were the highest since the current tournament format began in 1991 for a Sweet Sixteen Thursday and 39 percent higher than last year.
The four broadcast entities airing the tournament are reaping the rewards. The event thus far has generated its highest rating ever through the regional semifinals, one of which was held at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, up over 9 percent from 2014.
More noticeably, people are watching from a variety of sources. A record-setting 59 million live video streams have been accessed by fans via the NCAA March Madness Live app through Thursday. Thursday’s Sweet 16 games saw a 59 percent increase in live video streams.
The tournament’s popularity is just as strong across social media outlets. More than 134 million social impressions have come through Facebook and Twitter through Thursday, a significant 46 percent increase over 2014.
So why such a significant boost in traffic across these platforms?
It would be a bit disingenuous to suggest that it has nothing to do with the play of the Kentucky Wildcats and their seemingly unstoppable March toward college hoops history.
Although their Thursday game against the West Virginia Mountaineers proved competitive for about…oh…three minutes, a level of intrigue exists courtesy of their opportunity to end the season undefeated.
For those casual hoops fans who chose to switch the channel, here’s betting they went to other more competitive games that were available. No harm, no foul.