Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm Happy it is April because March was Mad!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the weather is getting nicer, and everyone's calendar has turned from March to April.  These do not only signify the changing of the seasons, but the end of college basketball.  Once again, March was pure madness as seventh seeded UConn squeaked by eighth seeded Kentucky to claim their first championship in the post-Jim Calhoun era.  What a start to Kevin Ollie's tenure as head coach!  Shabazz Napier's performance and leadership this past month brings back memories of the last time UConn took home the title:  Kemba Walker led the underdog Huskies straight to the championship as one of the greatest runs from the conference tournament to the big show.  While this tournament may have been the most exciting in a long long time, not every fan was able to view it.

In 2010, the NCAA signed a deal with CBS and Time Warner's TBS for fourteen years and is worth more money than you and I will ever make in our lives ($10.8 billion in total or roughly $771.4 million per year).  By golly that sounds like quite the deal for the big bad NCAA, too bad they will not be sharing it with any of their players, unionized or not (sorry Mr. Kain Colter and the rest of your Northwestern teammates).  But the major problem with this deal is that not everyone has Time Warner channels on their television, while CBS is on basic cable.  2013 had a wonderful feel-good story for Louisville and Kevin Ware's leg bone making an appearance on national television, but the 2013 NCAA tournament did not have the same quality of players as it did this year; even with Nerlens Noel, it still would not have been as good!  Yet, the 2013 National Championship had more viewers than this year.

Between 2013 and 2014, there was a dip of roughly 11% viewership of the Final Four.  When dicussing millions of viewers, that is a large amount of people not watching on the tube (or 75" flatscreen televition, whichever you choose).  But as it turns out, TBS does not reach the television sets of those 11%.  Coincidence?  I like to think so!  This can be a way for more people to purchase larger television packages through whichever cable/satellite provider of their choosing.  If viewers were so die hard that they would spend more money for an event that occurs once a year, then go for it.  But there are some ways for those fans to get around spending the extra money.

A little something called "March Madness Live," which allows fans to stream the games, had four million viewers this year.  According to Nielson, there was a 76% increase in viewers from last year.  Do you hear that TBS?  Fans are going to find ways to watch your games if they don't have to pay you yearly subscriptions!  Additionally, many fans may have gone to different bars, restaurants, or even a friend's house to watch the national championship.  Almost all of UConn's student body was watching in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.  This factors cannot be seen in the Nielson data.

CBS and Time Warner are spending billions of dollars for this deal.  Both s networks are fortunate they are popular with millions of viewers around the world and will still make a profitable income.  But I think the real winner is the NCAA.  March Madness will come and go no matter which station broadcasts it, but in the end, the NCAA makes a hefty income to help it grow and well as fend off multiple lawsuits that come their way!

Micah Sokolsky is a Pre-Junior Sport Management major at Drexel University with minors in Spanish and Business.  Micah hails from San Francisco, CA and was a participant on Drexel Sport Management’s College Sport Research Institute (CSRI) team last year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2013.  Micah completed his first co-op with the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball team in their Marketing and Promotions department.  A member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Micah is involved on campus as the Athletics Chairman for the Inter-Fraternity Council and as a Resident Assistant in Race Hall. Connect withMicah on LinkedIn.

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