Ready for the Big Dance? The Clock Is About to Start on NCAA March Madness 2019

Will the usual suspects end up in the final four or is 2019 the year we witness another Cinderella story? Either way, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament always delivers drama. The single elimination format, fast action, and young guns of March Madness provide the perfect recipe for must-see TV that sports fans crave. Add in the excitement of playing along at home with your own bracket and you have a slam dunk. Who will be watching and via what method are just a couple of the questions AYTM asked 1,000 US college basketball fans. Read on for the answers.

The Fundamentals

Of the 1,000 college basketball fans surveyed, an overwhelming 92% plan to watch March Madness games this year. The tournament is a big draw for viewers who might not watch all that many of the regular season games. The fans we surveyed said that aside from March Madness, the frequency with which they watch college basketball during the regular season is:

  • 47% — Often
  • 43% — Sometimes
  • 10% — Rarely
  • 1% — Never

Most have been watching the tournament regularly over the years, with only 7% saying this year they will be watching for the first time. These first-time viewers were more likely to be women. Among those who will be watching, the majority, 81% will enjoy the games from the comfort of their own couch. Sports bars, friend’s homes, and the workplace will be the viewing place of 7%, 4%, and 3% respectively. A lucky 1% will watch from the stands at the actual games.

80% of viewers, will be watching via cable or satellite TV. 10% plan to watch via streaming services such as CBS All Access, Hulu, Playstation Vue, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, etc. Viewers ages 35-44 were most likely to use streaming services to watch the games. 7% will watch via the old standard of traditional antenna TV. 2% will be watching via apps — e.g., ESPN, CBS Sports, and NCAA March Madness Live.

Bracket Madness

Most viewers don’t just want to be a benchwarmer during March Madness, they want to get in the game — that’s where the brackets come in. 74% of the basketball fans we surveyed have filled out a bracket at least once, with 36% of those saying they fill one out every year. This year, 30% plan to fill out multiple brackets and 34% plan to fill out one. Fans have numerous opportunities to fill out brackets ranging from the official online version provided by to office pools and friendly competition amongst friends. 79% of fans filling out brackets plan to use the official online version (and they are more likely to be ages 18-24) and 45% will be participating in a bracket at their workplace. Of those competing in a bracket with their co-workers, 72% believe March Madness office pools improve morale (I would add — especially for the winner).

We asked those college hoops fans filling out brackets for their predictions of who will be the 2019 champion and it looks like Duke is the early favorite.

The Takeaways aka Steals

As the shot clock winds down on this article, I feel that I must include more basketball puns, please forgive me. Cable and satellite TV are the easy lay up when it comes to tournament viewing methods, with streaming and apps running and gunning for viewers. Basketball fans choose the home court advantage and most will watch from their own living rooms. Filling out a tournament bracket is a gimme amongst college basketball fans and a majority will fill out multiples. Though most media coverage focuses on the men’s tournament, among the basketball fans we surveyed, 44% plan to also watch the women’s tournament. This is a heads up to advertisers that they might want to get the drop step and consider focusing on both with their media spend.

Allie Smith is the former Director of Charts for eMarketer with over 15 years of experience in the world of market research. Her love for charts and graphs is only outweighed by her love for her whippets. She spends her free time watching Law & Order reruns while knitting cute hats for dogs.