Ballistic For Basketball! The Money In March Madness… By the Numbers

March 17, 2014  |  

Go to the @NCAA Twitter feed for a more detailed (and legible) breakdown of the bracket.

It’s crazy time of year again… March Madness! The best of the best in college basketball teams face each other to win the coveted championship trophy. But behind the fans’ cheers and jeers, sneaker squeaks, and net swishes lies the true driving force of March Madness — money, baby! And lots of it!

They’ve coined March Madness the “New Super Bowl” — oh yeah, it’s that serious. Last year, CBS, the network that broadcasted the NCAA men’s final, pulled in a sweet $198.5 million in ad revenue. And that, according to The Street, is a March Madness record. Swish! Not bad compared to the Super Bowl’s $292 million in ad revenue, huh?

A 30-second ad spot during March Madness will cost you $1 million to $1.5 million during the championship game, according to Fox Business. And it’s totally worth it: “March Madness has a broad audience.We feel like we get a strong return on our investment,” said Chris O’Neill, Capital One’s director of digital public relations campaigns.

In its entirety, CBS (and Turner Studios) made a whopping $1.15 billion off advertisers thanks to Coca-Cola, General Motors, AT&T, Capital One, Nissan, Lowes, and more. “That $1.15 billion total is more than the $1.1 billion [sic] spent on the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl combined in 2013, which makes it the second-straight year that March Madness ad money surpassed football’s playoff total,” The Street said.

But of course, the NCAA Basketball Tournament doesn’t compare to the Super Bowl when it comes to viewership. Maybe because there are no dancing Madonnas or gyrating Beyoncés during half-time? March Madness’ viewership peaked at 27.1 million last year. That’s peanuts compared to the Super Bowl’s 167 million.

Now let’s zoom in a little closer on March Madness and talk about the players. Though the NCAA players are only compensated by lucrative scholarships, NerdWallet calculates how much each player would be worth. The average NCAA athlete on the top 25 teams would pocket $476,957 a year. The Louisville Cardinals, representing University of Louisville, would pay its players the highest salary with an average of $1,483,957 per player.

Here are the top three NCAA basketball teams, according to revenue, NerdWallet reports:

1. Louisville Cardinals

Team Revenue:  $42,398,758  Average Player Salary: $1,483,957

2. Syracuse Orange

Team Revenue: $26,039,030   Average Player Salary: $911,366

3. Duke Blue Devils

Team Revenue: $25,735,093  Average Player Salary: $900,728

Thanks to TV deals, ticket sales, and merchandise, the nation’s most prestigious schools see stacks of cash when it comes to college basketball. Currently, Jabari Parker — a player for Duke — would be the highest-paid in the league with a whopping $2,381,111 salary.

We talked about the winners of March Madness, but there are also losers in March Madness: our bosses. Productivity will plummet as employers around the country sneak a peak at live games on mute or whip out their smartphones to check scores. This is expected to cost companies a total $1.2 billion per unproductive hour, according to WallStCheatSheet

“The first week of the annual men’s college basketball tournament is particularly hazardous to workplace productivity,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of an outplacement firm.

Possibly the biggest loser, however, isn’t one of America’s distracted white-collar workers — it’s a member of the one percent: Warren Buffet. He’s spicing up March Madness this year claiming that there’s no way in heck that NCAA fans will predict a perfect bracket. And he’s betting $1 billion!

Will he lose the bet? We’ll just have to wait until April 7th, the highly anticipated March Madness championship game.

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