March Madness Rebounds as Viewership hits ‘Historical Jumps’

After a year hiatus, March Madness rebounded big in terms of viewership. KHOU’s Director of Sales, Miles Cathey is back to share the lessons we learned during this year’s tournament.

“Gonzaga is pretty darn strong again, but my hat goes to Baylor.” That’s what KHOU Director of Sales Miles Cathey said back in March when we asked him for his March Madness predictions.  

He was right. Baylor defeated Gonzaga 86-70 to take the championship home to Texas, a state that had seven teams in the tournamentBut there were more winners in Texas than just Baylor.  

He was also right about the level of excitement surrounding the games.  

“Last time we talked, I said that viewers are striving toward normality, and watching the tournament was the best thing they could do, said Cathey. “The whole state was really behind all the local teams. The University of Houston hasn’t been to the Final Four since 1983, so everyone here was pumped up big time.” 

The numbers can confirm.  

Ratings for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments were up across the board. Compared to 2019, Broadcasting +Cable says the men’s tournament saw “historical jumps” with Sweet Sixteen viewership up 12% with 12.9 million viewers across TBS and CBS. It’s the most-viewed Sweet Sixteen since 1993.  

Other interesting findings from the report  

  • – 8 in 10 homes watched the games on Linear TV, but OTT viewership is growing.  
  • – 21% more Americans ordered food online during the games when compared to 2019, which is a trend that is continuing in the Super Bowl’s wake. 
  • – Viewers who are considered passionate viewed nearly 500 TV commercials during the tournament 

What’s the value to your brand? Advertising around local teams reaffirms a brand’s place in the community.” Advertisers really want to support local teams,” said Cathey. “With seven teams in the tournament, our advertisers really got a big push.”

It just goes to show that taking advantage of opportunities to connect with local consumers is a winning strategy!  


If you’re thinking of how you might amplify your brand’s March Madness efforts or looking to join TEGNA affiliates in their efforts to serve the greater good of our communities, let’s get in touch.

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