Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Under Further Review: March Media Madness

You're probably still sitting around thinking up the wildest conspiracy theories for True Detective, but remember that this is the only one that matters: the show was placed to run from the Sunday after the BCS National Championship Game to the the Sunday before Selection Sunday. I know. I'm just sayin'. As you get caught up in filling out brackets and wrapping your mind around the upsets, it can be easy to lose track of how big of a media event March Madness has become. Fear not; here are the most important media facts for you to remember as the NCAA men's basketball tournament approaches.

The biggest piece to remember is that March Madness has become so mad because of the media. Prior to ESPN's involvement, it was commonplace for only the Final Four and National Championship Game to be televised live. Games in the earlier rounds were either shown on tape-delay or not at all. Then, in search of marquee properties, ESPN bought live rights to early-round games. ESPN was able to expose that there was, in fact, demand for these games, and the rest has progressed from there. So as much as ESPN can seem like the devil on some days, their involvement in the growth of the NCAA tournament cannot be denied.

Due to this now fanatic obsession with the all of the games, the NCAA tournament's media rights are worth a healthy 14-year, $10.8 billion contract. CBS and Turner jointly hold the rights and together air every single game live across one of four networks. The games can be seen on CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. The deal was signed back in the spring of 2010, so there are plenty more guaranteed years of fun.

The ratings are not slouch either. Last season, the national championship game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Michigan Wolverines pulled a 14.0 rating on CBS. By comparison, the only college sports game to do better last season was the Notre Dame-Alabama title game for football, which pulled a 15.1 rating. The Final Four games did not disappoint, with Syracuse-Michigan earning a 10.2 and Louisville-Wichita State earned an 8.7.

Each year millions and millions of brackets are filled out with predictions or guesses or simply who you want to see win. The logic isn't always basketball related either. Some go based on team colors. Or mascot. Or how pretty the name sounds. Really anything. This season, the ante has been upped as Quicken Loans and Yahoo! Sports have teamed up to offer $1 billion to the person who predicts the perfect bracket. The odds of picking the perfect bracket? Only 1 in 9.2 quintillion. So you're telling me there's a chance!

So, as you watch and get mad at the Madness and pull your hair out and curse and tear up your bracket, remember the NCAA tournament's place in the sports media landscape. Things would probably be a lot more enjoyable if you didn't worry about that bracket, but $1 billion could buy so much late night Chinese food.


Kevin Rossi is a junior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in Communications and Business Administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to President. Currently, Kevin is also the Drexel editor for Kevin recently finished his second co-op with Temple University in their Athletic Communications office. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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