March Madness is one of the most infamous post season tournaments in all of sports. The secret to this success? Fan engagement.
March Madness is here, and it’s been a particularly mad one! Not only is this one of the most memorable post seasons of all sports, but it is a massive success story for the power of fan engagement. This might not be basketball at the highest level, but it sure feels like it.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament stands apart from all other post season tournaments. No other sport has office-wide pools betting on the outcome. No other sport blitzes you with up to 4 simultaneous post-season games for days on end, making it impossible to look away. No other sport does it better.
The emphasis on fan engagement is what sets the NCAA men’s basketball postseason apart. There are two main ways the NCAA engages fans in this massive, 68 team tournament.
The first and most unforgettable way the NCAA engages fans: the bracket.
You can’t think about the Big Dance without envisioning the oversized bracket. It’s a huge social phenomenon that has captivated everyone from your local office to the oval office. Who could forget the annual unveiling of Barack Obama’s presidential bracket?
But, the true power behind having millions of people fill out brackets? Now all of those people have a vested interest in the 67 games that will follow. And you can bet they’ll be paying attention. 👀
Filling out brackets is a proven way to drum up excitement for the tournament, but that’s only half the battle.
The other and less talked about way the NCAA has invested in fan engagement: it’s nearly frictionless to tune in.📺
The NCAA developed March Madness Live which is a platform that allows you to watch every single game. It’s available on smart TVs, laptops, and mobile. All you have to do is sign in with your TV provider to gain instant access to every single game. And if you don’t have a TV provider, they give you a 3 hour free preview, no questions asked. There’s no excuse to not tune in and root for your bracket picks.
They even broadcast a stream called Fast Break that provides whip around coverage (similar to RedZone from the NFL Network), switching from game to game in real time depending on where the best action is.
So, what should we take away from this? The NCAA is prioritizing removing hurdles for the audience. By emphasizing a convenient fan experience, rather than allowing networks to put up walls around the games they broadcast, the NCAA is investing in the fan experience. Maybe that’s why the NCAA men’s basketball tournament finals averaged 18.1 million viewers last year. Meanwhile, last year’s NBA finals averaged 12.4 million viewers.
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