NCAA Tournament 2021: Brand & Ad Creative Report

Inside the Report

Both the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments were among many live sporting events cancelled or postponed last year amid the pandemic. Losing those events meant losing a billion dollars for the NCAA, and created countless headaches for brands and networks, as they quickly tried to adjust to the new environment on TV.

Thankfully, March Madness has returned in 2021. And with two rounds in the books so far in both brackets, we’re able to observe some key brand and creative trends. On the men’s side:

  • Of all new ads from NCAA sponsors this March, 67% were “funny”
  • Streaming service impressions increased about 6x (0.5% to 2.9%)
  • Beer also jumped considerably with 5.9% of impressions in 2021 (vs. 1.6% in 2019)

And for the women’s tournament:

  • Percent of QSR impressions increased by nearly 5x (from 2.0% to 9.7%)
  • Dairy, eggs & cheese were a top-10 industry (3.9% of impressions) after ranking 38th in 2019
  • Streaming services were not nearly as prevalent during the women’s tournament (0.5% of impressions) as the men’s (2.9%)

As live events follow the rest of TV and become more cross-platform, brands need the right data to determine who’s watching and where. Check out iSpot’s new report on the first two rounds of March Madness, and stay tuned for more updates on NCAA Tournament TV ad trends as we update these findings each week.