SBD/March 2, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Hoop It Up: NCAA Tournament Is Nearly Sold Out Of TV, Digital Ad Inventory

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Most March Madness ad inventory sold out in February, but some is being held back
CBS Sports Exec VP/Sales & Marketing John Bogusz said that the NCAA men's basketball tournament is "nearly sold out of TV and digital inventory," the "earliest the event has sold so much inventory in recent memory," according to Brian Steinberg of AD AGE. TNT, TBS and TruTV are "joining CBS in carrying the games and selling the attached advertising." Bogusz and Turner Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales & Marketing Jon Diament indicated that "most inventory sold out in February," though "some is being held in reserve." Steinberg reported as is the case each year, the NCAA tournament "already has a list of prominent supporters that agree well in advance to purchase broad sponsorship packages." Bogusz said that "auto advertisers will be strong in the tournament," and telecommunications companies and fast-food marketers "have also shown strong interest." This is the first year since '90 that tournament coverage will air on an outlet other than CBS, and Steinberg noted advertisers, rather than looking at the ratings of a single broadcast, "will add up the ratings points of broadcasts across CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV." The networks "have had to figure out new contingency plans in case ratings fall short of their promises to advertisers." CBS in past years "could simply make up any shortfalls with ad time in other sports broadcasts" on the net. Under the new agreement, however, inventory that is solely CBS' or Turner's "may not always be available for use" as make goods. Bogusz: "We have actually been a little bit conservative with our ratings estimates. We have inventory to make people whole if for some reason the ratings don't deliver what we're anticipating" (ADAGE.com, 3/1).

DELIVERING THE GOODS: AD WEEK's Anthony Crupi reported new research from Kantar Media shows the NCAA Tournament is the "second biggest postseason sports showcase for advertisers" behind only the NFL Playoffs. CBS in '10 "took in $613.8 million in ad sales revenue," which "easily eclipsed" both the NBA and MLB. The Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals generated $417.7M in ad sales, while the Giants-Rangers World Series drew $345.3M (ADWEEK.com, 3/1).
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