This year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was one for the books. The Baylor Bears took home the championship beating Gonzaga with a final score of 86-70. With March Madness 2020 getting canceled over the pandemic, live sports-starved fans were eager to watch this year’s games go down, as evidenced by the high viewership turnout, and most of that audience opted for streaming.
Roku released data on the recently wrapped tournament that shows this year’s TV streaming reach increased by 86.6%. Additionally, viewers watched a lot more of the tournament this year with hours watched increasing by 75.4% compared to 2019.
The data also confirms that linear TV is becoming less and less popular. Approximately 25.5% of 2019 traditional linear TV tournament viewers on Roku devices streamed a channel carrying tournament games during the time of gameplay, and about 58% of viewers who watched it on traditional TV in 2019 on Roku didn’t return in 2021.
“Nearly 6 out 10 traditional linear TV viewers did not return to watch this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on traditional TV. This is the latest example of the transformation shift occurring in TV viewing behavior.” says Kristina Shepard, National Brand Team Lead, Roku. “What we’re seeing is reflective of a change taking place across all the major sports as they returned from a pandemic induced pause. Marketers looking to continue reaching mass audiences through live sports must shift their focus towards TV streaming. ”