Press Release

For Fans, March Madness Peaks Before Tournament Tip Off

By April 8, 2014 No Comments

New Research from Spark, RealityMine Shows Sports TV, Mobile Use Reach Highs on Selection Sunday

Unlike many sporting events, March Madness seems to tip off at championship intensity, according to new research on consumer media habits from Chicago’s Spark.

The recent collaboration between market research technology firm RealityMine and media agency Spark reveals that sports engagement across TV and mobile peaks on Selection Sunday, well before any balls are bounced or alley-oops thrown – when fans, casual and committed alike, are fully invested in the ensuing “madness.”

To explore consumers’ engagement and media habits during the “March Madness” journey, the firms created a cross-media panel of 500 people using the USA TouchPoints eDiary and passive behavior tools. They tracked panelists’ viewing habits during the Tournament in order to determine how the games impact consumers’ media consumption habits.

“Unlike the playoffs and championships in many professional sports, March Madness is that rare property that captures the masses at the outset,” said Adam Weiler, VP, Director of Research at Spark. “Long before anyone’s brackets are busted, we’re seeing engagement across media at a fever pitch. Each medium seems to play a unique role.”

“For Millennial viewers in particular, who have grown up with an almost unquenchable thirst for backstory, the tournament and its field are tailor-made for digging deeper,” said Scott Hess, SVP of Human Intelligence at Spark. “For brands, the opportunity to provide value by lending early context to the tournament and its teams is vast, and crosses all media.”

Interestingly, despite the “March Madness” nickname, respondents consistently described feeling “happy” and “content” throughout the event – an attractive emotional association with which many advertisers can connect.

Radio attracted its largest audience before the Tournament tipped off. More panelists listened to the radio on Monday, March 17, than any other day that week, most likely due to fans seeking college hoops expertise on how to fill out their brackets.

Mobile use almost mirrored sports TV viewing, peaking during Selection Sunday, and then experiencing a dip during the First Four before rebounding somewhat during the first weekend of games. Given the similar usage patterns, it seems likely that mobile screens typically are used in sync with television, rather than standalone.

For mobile users, social networking was the most popular activity. Nearly 30 percent of panelists using their mobile devices during the games indicated that they were on various social network sites. Facebook was the social networking site of choice, accounting for more than 15 percent of visits. Messaging and web browsing were also popular.

On the app front, Candy Crush proved the most popular second-screen sidecar, suggesting that every “shining moment” may not have viewers’ undivided attention.

“The Big Dance is a very social event in the mobile world. Advertisers should take advantage of the broad mobile ecosystem to find consumers who are engaging with the Tournament – not just on Facebook and Twitter – but by following them across the range of sites they visit, including news, weather and sports-based websites,” said Garry Partington, CEO of RealityMine.

Spark and RealityMine will continue to explore the data from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament research, and final results will be announced later this month.

About Spark

Spark is a full-service media agency dedicated to exploring new ways to create meaningful connections in the rapidly accelerating communications environment. Part of the Starcom MediaVest Group, Spark is part of one of the largest and most celebrated global brand communications and consumer contact organizations, with more than 110 offices in 67 countries worldwide.

About RealityMine

RealityMine is a leading provider of opt-in mobile passive behavior tools, technologies and big data analytics, collecting and analyzing data from mobile phones, tablets, desktop PCs and third party data sources, which can then be used to help businesses understand consumer behavior. RealityMine’s services are now live in over 20 countries around the world. The company has offices in New York, Los Angeles and the UK.