Smartphones, Tablets Drive The Madness of March

Posted by · March 23, 2012 12:22 pm

When I think of people watching a sports game, immediately the stereotypical image of a group of people sitting down on a couch in front of the big screen, wearing their favorite teams’ jerseys, drinking watery beer, and eating copious amounts of barely edible food comes to mind. But a recent study from comScore shows that this is not the only kind of madness that sports fanatics enjoy during one of the biggest sporting events of the year.

According to the group’s results, more than 20 percent of online viewings of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament have occurred on smartphones and tablets. To better illustrate the significance of this statistic, such a figure is nearly double the percentage of non-sports content views on these non-PC devices. As such, this kind of statistic serves to give a whole new meaning to the term March Madness.

Reacting to the study’s results, comScore senior director Debbie Bradley offered the following analysis:

The NCAA Tournament, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics, is one of those events where sports fans don’t want to miss a beat of the action – especially if they can’t be in front of a TV. Over the past several years we’ve seen fans become more reliant on the web for NCAA tournament coverage, especially while they’re tied to their desks during the first round matchups. As media formats continue to evolve, we’re rapidly seeing America’s national college basketball obsession increasingly bleed over to other screens like smartphones and tablets. Given the emphasis large advertisers place on these events, it’s important to consider how other media channels can be leveraged to maximize a brand’s awareness and its communication with the consumer.

The study also found that, compared to the average of the prior three Thursdays, total sport-related traffic surged by 79 percent on March 15—the first day of the tournament. Meanwhile all other web content fell by 2 percent. With respect to tablets and smartphones, one can get an even better perspective of this 20-percent figure when one considers the fact that sports consumption via these devices rose by 94 percent and 83 percent respectively compared to the same three-Thursday average.

“While all-encompassing media events like the NCAA Tournament might eat into the content people typically consume, it actually appears that most usage is incremental content consumption,” Bradley adds. “When the content is highly time-sensitive – such as with news or sports scores – there’s a greater likelihood of it being consumed on-the-go via mobile devices.”

Since this is the first such study to come out of comScore’s still-new Device Essentials division, it will be interesting to follow the rate at which tablets and smartphones increase their share of such traffic in subsequent years. Based on the results of this study alone, it would seem that sports fans are moving more quickly toward complete immersion in the so-called “Post-PC Era” than their less sport-savvy counterparts.