NEW YORK -- ( MainStreet) -- March Madness is a bracket full of marketing opportunity for NCAA basketball tournament partners, sponsors and companies looking to cut in on the Big Dance. Within the past decade alone, the tournament has drawn $5.2 billion in television advertising revenue from 275 different broadcast sponsors, according to Kantar Media. Last year alone, revenue jumped 20%, to $738 million. The 78 advertisers who jumped aboard in 2011 were the fewest the tournament has seen in a decade, but the haul was even bigger than the previous tournament-record $643.2 million brought in by the event in 2008.
"College sports in general, but especially March Madness, deliver that core component that you have to have in sports marketing, which is passion," says Bill Glenn, senior vice president at sports and entertainment marketing firm The Marketing Arm. "You want to talk to consumers about what their passion is, and that passion in the month of March is college basketball." That passion's also coming from a much younger base with more of that coveted expendable income that companies crave. The NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball all hit the 25- to 54-year-old demographic pretty solidly, but Glenn notes that college sports do a far better job of reaching a base of 18- to 34-year-olds that proves a far more passionate audience. CBS ( CBS) and Turner Sports took that into account when inking a $10 billion deal to broadcast the NCAA tournament through 2024. The $738 million in advertising revenue March Madness brought in last year ranked No. 2 among postseason sports properties, just behind the $900 million in ad revenue produced by the NFL postseason last year but well ahead of the roughly $450 million apiece in revenue produced by the Major League Baseball and NBA playoffs.