Why Do People Love College Basketball and Playing Their Brackets Each Year?


I love college basketball, heck, I love all basketball, but I love the action and passion of college basketball most of all. I think one of the main drivers of our obsession lies in the marketing and advertising industry’s focus on delivering content at an incredible pace, which delivers massive impressions and engagement.

America loves college basketball; the statistics are staggering with 11.3 million viewers on average over the last 22 years. College fans live-streamed a total of 80.7 million hours with a record viewership of 21.2 million for the championship game, which was a record. TV advertising spends from 2005 to 2015 were a total of $8,668,000, with 2015 coming in at $1,163,000. In 2015, the average cost of a 30-second spot was $1.55 million. Digital advertising spend by device in 2015 left smartphones & tablets getting $30.4 billion and desktops & laptops receiving $27.6 billion.Leading TV ad categories in 2015 were automotive companies with Buick investing $34.1 million, Infiniti $9.9 million, and Lexus $11 million. Financial Services companies like Quicken Loans, Northwestern Mutual, and Capital One spent a combined $69.5 million. And the Fast Casual and Fast Food industry also contributed to a high level of investment with $12.8 million by Subway, $15.8 million by Burger King, and $18.8 million by Buffalo Wild Wing.

What lies beyond the numbers in our consumption of this live-sporting event?

First, I think fans love to follow their alma mater, and this nostalgia translates into a kind of superfan who “follows” with an incredible passion rivaled by no other sport.

Second, the reason for the competitiveness shown by college athletes is a factor. You can see the noticeable difference in passion amongst both the players and fan bases in college basketball compared to the NBA. However, there is a primary driving factor that makes following college basketball far more exciting than pro basketball: unpredictability.

Every year (except in 2020), college basketball rosters are almost wholly flipped, especially in the one and done era, which adds new excitement to every March tournament schedule and gameplay. No one knows how the season will turn out. Every year the face of college basketball changes, and each year the teams on top have a different story and a varied cast of characters.

I know I missed the excitement of playing and usually losing the college bracket game. Still, I rest easy with the knowledge that it will return next season and will be more energetic and passionately played by college athletes and watched by old geezers like myself.

If you’re like me and missing the bracketmania, check out March Sadness! StellaPop presents a true 68-team bracket, powered by computer simulation and a guess of what the NCAA selection committee would have released if it had automatic qualifiers.

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