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In Ad Dollars, March Madness Is Bringing It to the Hoop

Granted, the NFL's broadcast partners can charge nearly $4 million per 30-second ad during their big game, while CBS and Turner have to settle for less than half of that. The nearly $1.5 million that the NCAA championship game fetches, however, is still better than what sponsors pay for college football's championship ($750,000), baseball's All-Star Game ($575,000), the NBA Finals ($435,000) and the World Series ($421,000).

College football, baseball, basketball and, certainly, hockey don't have anything on the Big Dance. Even the Oscars, which bring in stunning $1.6 million per ad for Disney's (DIS) ABC, have never topped $85 million in ad revenue.

So why college basketball? Well, the two weeks of games including 68 teams don't hurt. The breakdown of regions into four major market areas in the South, East, Midwest and West aren't so bad, either. Advertisers such as UPS (UPS), State Farm Insurance and Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) can hit audiences in key NCAA markets and not blow a lot of money on large national campaigns.

Meanwhile, all of those teams playing in a very confined timeframe build fan anticipation and a television following that the pros just can't put together in such a confined bracket during more than a month of playoffs. Super Bowl spectacle aside, it's easy to lose patience when you're not invested in the games, either as a fan, through office brackets or otherwise.

Plus, college basketball's audience reaches its peak among 18- to 35-year-olds who've either just graduated or are rooting on their school while finishing up the payments on their student loans. According to sports entertainment and marketing firm The Marketing Arm, it's a renewable source of youthful passion that doesn't diminish from year to year. It can survive a few years of blowout championship games and can be patient until a small school such as Butler eventually takes the title.

The Super Bowl isn't slowing down, but the tournament hasn't slipped much, either. The NFL would need a lot more than a lopsided matchup to lose the title, but college basketball's advertisers are willing to wait.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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