The math of the NCAA Tournament isn't really on the side of the basketball fans, especially in the first round of the tournament: 32 games, several of which are played simultaneously, for 1 pair of frenzied, starving eyes. Unless you have constructed some media-hungry war room with different televisions capable of broadcasting the numerous games, you're likely to miss more than a few. Short of this hypothetical defcon sports den, many basketball fans resorted to following the first round on their handheld devices - so much so that they drove 20% of all web traffic through smartphones and tablets during the first round of the tournament.
comScore, the venerable watchtower of web activities, released a new report today that examined web usage related to the first two days of the NCAA tournament and found that browser-based page views in the Sports category increased significantly.
The report shows that consumers dramatically increased their access to sports across all three web-related screens - computer, tablet, and smartphone - as they tried to shovel into their eyeballs as much basketball footage as possible.
Comparing computer and non-computer (i.e., tablets and smartphones) web traffic, the first two days - Thursday, of the tournament funneled a huge increase of traffic to mobile devices. The data revealed that the amount of sports-related content consumed on mobile devices was nearly twice any other content category.
In a statement released with the report, Debbie Bradley, Senior Director at comScore, said that the NCAA tournament is one of those unique events that where sports fans try everything they can to take in as much of the coverage as possible.
“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 at work during the first round match-ups," she said. "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 increase of traffic through smartphones and tablets is suggestive of the fact that more people who are on-the-go are trying to keep up on the games, whether due to post-work traffic gridlocks or because they're posted up in bars watching one game on a giant flatscreen while following a different game on their mobile device. Increase of traffic on computers was high, as well, but it was outpaced by the amount of web traffic that was consumed via smartphone or tablet.