After last year's NCAA basketball tournament saw plenty of historic upsets and last gasp winners, Americans are hoping that this year's March Madness will live up to its nickname once again. Like every year, millions of sports fans across the country filled out their tournament brackets ahead of the first games on Thursday, which saw Maryland, Louisiana State, Minnesota and Michigan State advance to the second round. As basketball fans across the U.S. are looking forward to finding out who will emerge as the winner from this year’s tournament culminating in the Final Four on April 6 and 8, sports fans from other parts of the world tend to be surprised by the attention given to the event. After all, it’s “only” college sports.
The love of college sports is in fact unique to the United States and what better way to gauge the popularity of any sporting event these days than to compare TV advertising spending. According to Kantar Media, March Madness is right up there with the big boy professional leagues in terms of post-season ad spending. In 2018, the season-ending college basketball tournament attracted more than $1.3 billion in TV ad spending, leaving the NBA and MLB playoffs behind. The only post season event that is an even bigger feast for advertisers is the NFL playoffs, culminating in the Super Bowl, which attracted more than $1.6 billion in TV ad spend last year.
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