By Frank Pellino
It was cold on April 4, 2016, and my friends and I were heading to a local Hooters with two things in mind.
First, we wanted to eat some delicious chicken wings. Second, we wanted to see a great end to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
We only accomplished one of our goals – the chicken wings were subpar. But the championship game was phenomenal! Villanova beat North Carolina on a last-second buzzer-beating three-point shot. We were in shock, just like every other person in the restaurant, but then I saw it.
What I saw ruined the whole game. Hell, it ruined the whole tournament for me. It was the most disheartening thing I’ve ever seen. It was an…ad.
Of course we see ads all the time, so what made this one shoot right through my heart? While Villanova was celebrating their victory it was time to cut the nets off the hoops, a common celebration after a basketball championship that obviously requires a ladder to reach the top of the ten-foot hoop. As I was watching, waiting to see the joy on the student’s faces, the ad cut in.
“And now the net cutting ceremony brought to you by Werner ladders, the official ladder of the NCAA.”
All of the excitement I had for those fellow students was sucked out of my body. The NCAA had ruined one of the most genuine moments in sports by selling a moment that these players and coaches worked so hard for to a ladder company.
Then it hit me. All of the ads I had seen not only during this game but throughout the entire month-long tournament flashed before my eyes.
“Halftime analysis brought to you by Capital One. What’s in your wallet?”
Some ad spots were even sold to two companies at once. It’s great to know that the TV- scheduled timeout is not only being brought to me by Burger King, but ESPN as well.
According to Simon Ogus of Forbes.com, the NCAA earned more than $1.1 billion in revenue from the March Madness tournament in 2015. That includes all purchased ad space, which sold for a Super Bowl-like $1.5 million per 30 seconds, and all merchandise and ticket sales. And if $1 billion wasn’t enough, on April 12, 2015 the NCAA struck an eight-year $8.8 billion dollar deal with TV superpower CBS to keep the tournament on their channels. The terms of the deal workout to CBS and Turner Sports paying $1.1 billion to the NCAA annually.
The question is with all of this money being poured into the NCAA, is there need for all of these ad spots? Simply, the answer is no.
A lot of the revenue that is made from the tournament gets spread out to the participating teams and the rest of the conferences that they represent.
Forbes estimates that $205 million was distributed to the conferences in 2015. With more going to powerhouse teams like Kentucky that go deep into the tournament, that means less goes to the teams like FDU that lose early, and even less to the teams that didn’t make it.
But what about the rest of the billion dollars the NCAA made? Well that goes to paying ridiculous salaries and kickbacks to the higher ups in the “non-profit” that is the NCAA. And with popular arguments about whether the players should get paid or not, this seems to be a prime example of how much money the players actually produce for the NCAA.
There is nothing wrong with commercials and companies trying to promote their business. But it is getting out of hand with the number of ads we see, taking away from the game. A fan can’t get into the flow of an intense college basketball game without being flashed by in-game ads.
At any given point one can be exposed to numerous ads on during the game at once. There are already numerous ads on the actual court, the basket and even the top of the backboard. Now every part of the coverage feels like its being brought to you by someone other than the NCAA.
Instead of enjoying a competitive and exciting exhibition of talent, it feels like we’re watching a televised advertising convention.