How NCAA Men’s Tournament Viewers Differ from Women’s Tournament Viewers

College basketball mania is here. First round NCAA tournament action tips off this week leading up to the Final Four in Houston and Indianapolis for the men and women respectively. With March Madness just around the corner, Experian Marketing Services’ data team started to wonder — how do TV viewers of the men’s tournament differ from viewers of the women’s tournament?

The women’s game has come a long way since the first women’s collegiate basketball championship in 1972.  This will be the ninth year that all 63 games of the tournament are televised nationally. Looking back to 1982 when the finals were contested in Norfolk, Virginia, only 37 media credentials were issued. This has increased 14 fold when compared to the 530 media credentials issued in San Antonio last year.

The men’s game is as popular as ever drawing impressive TV ratings, especially during tournament time. Remember Butler’s drive to the Final Four last year and their near upset of Duke? CBS reported that 48 million viewers watched at least some of the championship game. According to viewership data from Experian Simmons, men’s tournament viewers outnumbered women’s tournament viewers by a ratio of 3.7 to 1. That’s nearly four men’s tournament viewers for every viewer of the women’s tournament.

So who might be watching this year? Using Experian’s Mosaic consumer lifestyle segmentation system combined with last year’s tournament viewership data from Experian Simmons, we took a closer look.

Men’s Tournament Viewers Rise Above The Rim On Affluence

The men’s tournament draws a significant share of viewers from affluent households. Nearly half of viewers have household income of $75,000 or over. The ten most affluent Mosaic segments have an over-representation of men’s tournament viewers compared to their corresponding share of U.S. adults. This includes Dream Weavers (well-off families with school age children, living an affluent suburban version of the American Dream), Enterprising Couples (married couples with children and childless duos living in upper-middle-class commuter communities), and New Suburbia Families (young, affluent working couples with pre-school children concentrated in fast-growing, metro fringe communities).

Nearly half of the men’s tournament TV viewers have household income of $75,000 or over.

True to its name, the Dream Weavers segment is a college basketball advertiser’s dream for home electronics, home furnishings, home improvement and home office supplies. All of these home-centered categories are near and dear to Dream Weaver householders many of whom will be following the men’s tournament very closely in a variety of media formats including online, in HDTV, and on their smart phones.

Brands and retail stores that have particular appeal to Dream Weavers include Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Eddie Bauer, Sephora, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Banana Republic.

But that’s not to say that only affluent consumers are watching the men’s tournament. Other segments with an above average concentration of men’s tournament viewers include African-American Neighborhoods, Minority Metro Communities, America’s Farmlands, and Young Cosmopolitans.

Men’s tournament viewers participate in a wide range of leisure and sport’s activities (most notably golfing, football, softball, racquet sports, and weight training), have a preference for driving Cadillac, Acura, and Lexus automobiles, and have a high concentration of readers of such magazine titles as Golf Digest, Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Barron’s, and Black Enterprise.

Women’s Tournament Delivers Younger, More Ethnically Diverse Audience

The audience for the women’s tournament is decidedly different from the men’s. About six out of every ten viewers have household income below $75,000. Mosaic segments with the greatest over-representation of women’s tournament viewers include Struggling City Centers (young, single and single-parent minority renters living in low-income city neighborhoods throughout the South) and Minority Metro Communities (married couples and single-parent minorities with above-average incomes working in a mix of service industry and white-collar jobs). These two segments alone account for nearly 20% of the women’s tournament viewing audience and contain about 2.5 times the concentration of viewers relative to their corresponding share of U.S. adults.

Women’s college basketball advertisers should note that the tournament delivers a less affluent audience compared to the men. Using Minority Metro Communities as an example, brands and retail stores that have particular appeal to this group and to the broader women’s tournament audience overall include 7-Eleven, Ace Hardware, Hallmark, Sam’s Club, Kmart, Dollar General, Big Lots, and Marshall’s. 

Women’s college basketball advertisers should note that the tournament delivers a less affluent audience compared to the men.

Only four of the ten most affluent Mosaic segments have an over-representation of women’s tournament viewers. When comparing a segment’s share of the overall women’s tournament viewing audience to its corresponding share of the men’s tournament viewing audience, three of these four segments account for a higher share of women’s viewers. These are America’s Wealthiest, White Collar Suburbia, and Affluent Urban Professionals. Advertisers will be pleased to know that interest in the tournament from these segments helps lift the viewing audience into a higher income demographic.  Using White Collar Suburbia as an example, retail stores that have particular appeal to this segment of the population include Brooks Brothers, Costco, Gap, J. Crew, Kohl’s, Lord & Taylor, and Victoria’s Secret.

Other segments that contain a significantly higher share of women’s viewers compared to men include Small-city Endeavors (a mix of lower income singles, families, and single parents living in older homes and small apartments in working class towns) and Professional Urbanites (upper-middle-class empty nesting couples and older singles in metropolitan areas).

Men’s Tournament Viewers Compared to Women’s Tournament Viewers
Men’s TournamentTop Ten Most Affluent Mosaic SegmentsWomen’s Tournament
America’s Wealthiest
Dream Weavers 
White Collar Suburbia
Upscale Suburbanites 
Enterprising Couples 
 Small-town Success 
New Suburbia Families 
Status-conscious Consumers 
Affluent Urban Professionals 
Urban Commuter Families 
 = Index of 100 to 125
 = Index of 126 to 150
 = Index above 150

The index shows the concentration of viewers for the men’s and women’s tournament for a segment compared to the segment’s share of U.S. adults.  For example, an index above 150 means that adults from the segment are 50% more likely to watch the tournament compared to U.S. adults overall.

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