AM/FM Nets March Madness Advertising Reach and Frequency


    With 20 million people reached by Westwood One’s AM/FM college basketball coverage each season, new research highlights distinct differences between audiences for NCAA tournament games on TV and radio, with big implications for March Madness advertising effectiveness.

    According to a MARU/Matchbox study, AM/FM radio listeners demonstrate higher engagement and passion than the television audience. This heightened engagement is reflected in several aspects, including a greater likelihood of attending an NCAA Basketball college, higher fandom levels, more game follow-ups, and a preference for muting TV broadcasts in favor of AM/FM radio coverage.

    Nielsen Portable People Meter analysis shows that among the 18-34 age group, Westwood One’s audio coverage surpasses television in reach, and is second only to streaming video.

    Nielsen Scarborough’s research reveals that the AM/FM radio audience for the NCAA Basketball Tournament is generally younger, more likely to be employed, and more likely to have children and larger households than the TV audience. Radio is also far more popular with sports bettors for both the Men’s and Women’s Tournaments than television, with AM/FM listeners 294% more likely to place a wager than the average American.

    The NCAA audio audience is also more likely to be in the market for significant purchases such as home remodeling, switching insurance providers, and buying tech devices.

    NCAA Listening Report Key Ad Categories
    (Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group)

    MRI-Simmons further indicates that NCAA March Madness AM/FM radio listeners are more likely to influence other consumers, extending the commercial impact beyond the game itself.

    The final major takeaway is how radio advertising should be a crucial part of any company’s March Madness campaigns – adding audio to video adds a 9% incremental reach lift and 47% of the audience benefits from a frequency amplification.


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