Brackets, Upsets & Buzzer Beaters: March Madness Offers a Thrill for Fans and Publishers

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The time for filling out brackets and cheering on obscure collegiate underdogs is nearly upon us again.

The weeks-long NCAA men’s basketball tournament (held March 13 through April 4), and the NCAA women’s basketball tournament (March 16 through April 4), attract millions of sports fans every year. And big brands and advertisers commit vast sums of money to woo that audience toward their products and services.

Distributed Media Lab’s sports content solutions will get your publication in on the action and use the March Madness excitement to satisfy reader demand and bring new advertisers into the fold.

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March Madness Audience

The NCAA Basketball Tournaments are the marquee tentpole events on the sports calendar in March and early April. Last year, the first four full days of men’s action averaged 8.5 million TV viewers, according to the Sports Business Journal, as well as a record streaming audience. And the national title game saw an audience of nearly 17 million TV viewers, according to Sports Media Watch.

But fans’ enthusiasm for college basketball in March goes beyond simply watching the games. A 2016 Nielsen case study reported: “40 million people filled out approximately 70 million brackets and waged $9.2 billion on March Madness through office pools, Nevada sportsbooks, offshore sites, and bookmakers.” Further, the American Gaming Association estimated 47 million Americans put down a wager during last year’s tournaments.

As millions look for the right combinations of winners to capture their bracket pool, they’ll also be looking for expert content to help give them an edge.

Solutions Through DML Collections

Our National College Basketball News collection is the key to unlocking all the benefits of March Madness engagement surges.

Our hand-curated collection has everything a basketball fan needs to keep informed, filled with expert analysis, basketball luminaries columns, bracket guides, predictions for potential Cinderella teams and profiles on star players and coaches.

There is also no shortage of storylines for diehards to follow this year. Legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski goes for one final title in his farewell season at Duke. Baylor digs in to defend as reigning champs. Powerful Cinderella Murray State preps for a deep run. And blueblood programs like Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona, and Kansas have stacked teams that are eager for the spotlight.

Our trending sports collection is another option for smaller outlets. It will focus on the NCAA Tournaments and provide coverage of the NFL Draft, action from the NBA, NHL, and MLB, and top headlines from around the sports world. It has a longer shelf life and can sustain reader engagement beyond the tournament with a continuous stream of the latest, most engaging sports news.

Monetizing the Madness

Last March, Acuity Ads gushed about the advertising power on display during the tournaments: “From 2015 to 2019, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament generated more than $4.5 billion of national ad spending. Equally positive is the 102 total advertisers in 2019, 67 of which were returning from the previous year.”

This event could be a gateway to new, fruitful sponsor relationships, whether it’s grocery stores, restaurants, big-box retailers, car dealerships, furniture stores, sports betting sites, or beer and liquor brands. “Presented by” branding is available for sponsorship of our curated collections, and there’s additional display advertising inventory available for a brand within the collection’s content viewer experience. A branded or sponsored content component is also an option, with content placement in the fourth card of our collection. Sports betting guides, tips from sportsbooks and game day recipes from grocery store chains are possible custom content opportunities. You can see a current example of custom content in our Community Empowerment collection:

For our two local sales campaign offerings, we recommend selling impression-based campaigns at $15 retail CPM, while the retail rate for share-of-voice campaigns can vary widely based on the size and quality of the publisher audience. DML charges a $250 floor or a $2 CPM for all collection campaigns, whichever is higher, for managed service fees.

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Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell
Dir. Sports & Special Projects
Distributed Media Lab