Internet ad revenue for NCAA Tournament may increase 30%

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CBS Corp. said it expects a 30% increase in revenue from online advertising for college basketball’s postseason tournament. Online ad revenue will be about $30 million, up from $23 million a year ago, and Internet ad inventory is almost sold out, Jason Kint, SVP/GM for CBSSports.com tells Bloomberg. The network is in the seventh year of an 11-year, $6 billion contract that gives it broadcast and online rights for the NCAA tournament.


The Bloomberg story said GM, AT&T and Coca-Cola are among the online marketers of March Madness, even as companies scale back spending with the economy in recession.

“We are seeing the same challenges that the rest of the online media are seeing as far as overall ad sales, but March Madness on Demand, based on the numbers, had a strong sales year,” Kint told Bloomberg.

Advertisers spent $643 million overall on the tournament last year, up 24% from $520 million in 2007, the Wall Street Journal said, citing TNS Media Intelligence.

CBS’s March Madness on Demand gives online viewers free access to live and archived NCAA men’s tournament games.

Comcast agreed to sponsor the CBSSports.com’s “boss button,” which lets viewers at work hide their viewing from supervisors. The button received 2.5 million clicks last year, Kint said.

CBS’s interactive division has 220 million monthly unique visitors across its online platforms, Kint said. “With 130 million people that watch the NCAA tournament, we only reached 4.8 million of them online last year,” he added.

RBR/TVBR observation: We’re pretty confident that number will be significantly higher this year, as every trend out there points to that fact. Bottom line as more and more consumers upgrade to video-quality phones, they add more dayparts to their TV viewing experience. The ad dollars inevitably follow.