Winter marks an exciting time for sports fans — straight from the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl into NCAA March Madness. More than 8 million people listen to Westwood One coverage of the NFL post-season, which kicked off this past weekend. Nearly 16 million will tune in for Westwood One’s NCAA basketball season — and 12 million of that comes from March Madness. 

Last year Westwood One commissioned Nielsen to conduct a study in order to better understand the listening audience of the NFL on Westwood One — and what it means for advertisers. Today we’re releasing results from a brand new Nielsen study of NCAA basketball listeners.

The NFL and NCAA research has taught us that sports play-by-play on the radio:

  • is a reach machine
  • attracts upscale, desirable listeners for advertisers
  • makes TV advertising campaigns even better

Sports play-by-play on the radio is a reach machine.

Does anybody really listen to the NCAA basketball on the radio? Per Nielsen, 15.8 million American adults are reached from November’s season kicks off right though the April championship game. One out of 10 American men are reached by NCAA basketball on Westwood One, available on more than 500 radio stations as well as digital platforms.

The NFL on radio is also a reach machine, reaching 1 in 3 American men, accumulating throughout the season to 30 million adults. 

Sports radio play-by-play reaches an upscale, full-time employed consumer.

The NCAA radio audience is stunningly upscale and full-time employed. Westwood One’s NCAA radio audience is 40% more likely to be full-time employed and 45% more likely to have an income of $75,000 or more.

(This matches the profile of the NFL radio listener, who is 32% more likely to be employed full-time and 38% more likely to make $75,000.)

Compared to the NCAA television audience, Westwood One’s NCAA radio audience is 35% more likely to work full-time. AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of the American workerTelevision is the soundtrack of retired Americans. Only 49% of the NCAA TV audience has a full-time job, compared to 66% of Westwood One’s NCAA radio audience. 

Radio makes TV campaigns better.

Westwood One’s NCAA coverage expands TV games exposed by 50%. On average, the typical NCAA TV viewer catches 8.6 games of March Madness. Adding Westwood One NCAA coverage adds 4.3 games consumed — a 50% increase.

For less than the cost of one Final Four TV spot, an advertiser can sponsor both Westwood One’s NCAA regular season AND March Madness!


NFL on the radio shows similar results. Westwood One’s NFL coverage boosted frequency of the TV campaign of one advertiser as much as 200% among the lightest TV viewers.

Sports play-by-play on the radio delivers massive reach, attracts an affluent audience, and enhances TV advertising campaigns. Radio play-by-play advertisers not only reach a desirable group of listeners — they also extend their TV investment.

Contact the Insights team at

Pierre Bouvard is CMO of Cumulus Media | Westwood One