When the calendar turns to March, thoughts turn to spring (at least for those of us north of the Equator – I’m not sure what Australians think about), St. Paddy’s Day, and even chocolate eggs.
And for some of us, our thoughts also turn to college basketball.
Every year, the NCAA puts on its national college basketball tournament known as March Madness. And every year, people bet on it. A lot.
According to the American Gaming Association, this year’s tournament will see approximately $9 billion wagered and 70 million brackets filled out. That second number is especially staggering, as it’s higher than the total number of ballots cast for President Obama (66 million) in the 2012 election. (Incidentally, the President fills out his own bracket every year, in a tradition that has come to be known as Barack-etology.)
MediaMiser recently analyzed around 13,000 tweets referencing both “March Madness” and “bracket”, in an attempt to divine who you, the people, would like to see win it all.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of team mentions were for top-seeded Kentucky (the far-and-away favourite to win it all this year), with around 50 per cent of the share of voice. And of all the tweets for Kentucky, professional golfer Rickie Fowler’s (@RickieFowlerPGA) had the greatest reach at around 880,000:
— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowlerPGA) March 16, 2015
Of the eight top-ranked teams mentioned in tweets, Duke came closest to Kentucky in terms of mentions with a 17-per-cent share of voice. It’s a strong show of support for the North Carolina school that won it all in 2010, as no other team received more than 100 mentions. Wisconsin finished with a nine per cent share of voice, followed by Arizona and Villanova with seven and six per cent, respectively (see chart). Interestingly, Facebook analyzed its own data and found similar trends: from February 15 to March 14, Kentucky and Duke came 1-2 in terms of number of posts and comments. But basketball isn’t the only thing getting its own brackets this month. On March 15, the NHL caused a bit of a stir by posting a bracket of its own:
It was retweeted around 800 times over our two days of monitoring, most notably by George Stroumboulopoulos, who sent it out to his 658,401 followers. That’s some fine marketing work from the National Hockey League.
Delicious food and craft beer also got in on the act:
— Levain Bakery (@levainbakery) March 18, 2015
Sports partisanship can be a nasty business, but no matter who you’re cheering for — or if you’re cheering at all — it’s certainly the case that March Madness gets people talking.