March Madness “Slam Dunk Dominators”

As cable viewership goes down, online views of highlights continues to spike.

March Madness is here again — yes, the big dance of 2018 is already in full swing! (Or should we say, slam?)

You might remember from last year that we published our first-ever piece about March Madness “Buzzer Beaters,” a data-driven way to wrap our heads around the 2016 tournament’s most impressive digital moments on YouTube. We didn’t want that to be a one-time wonder, so we’re back, now fully equipped with 2017 data, to shed a few insights on what we’d like to call the March Madness “Slam Dunk Dominators.”

So, what’s a “Slam Dunk Dominator,” you ask? It’s basically that moment in a game where, if you only had that moment to watch, it would be that moment that you would never want to miss. And not surprisingly, as we started to see in 2016, these make-or-break moments proved to the be the biggest draw of all March Madness online viewership.

Slam Dunk Dominators Double in Views

In fact, since last year, these “Slam Dunk Dominators” have doubled in views! That tells us a few things about today’s video consumption behaviors, most notably the fact that many consumers today either only have enough time to watch – or are simply prioritizing – game highlights, especially those that involve major upsets. (After all, we all like a little drama, right?) This is becoming more of the rule and less of an exception as more and more sports fans continue to cut the cord and only watch sports programming online.

Stats that take down the net

Where do the 2017 March Madness YouTube viewership stats stack up? Let’s take a look:

On the Rise: Overall Viewership

In 2017, there were 4.4 million live streams of the March Madness Final, with a total of 208 million views of March Madness-related content on YouTube alone.

Highlight Clips: Making a Fast Break

Rather than watching full games, fans are proving to be even more interested in tuning into to view highlights and clips from past games.

Nothin’ But the Bottom of the Net: Buzzers, Dunks & Upsets

In 2017, the top video for March Madness upsets was “Top 5 NCAA Upsets in Tournament History,” clocking in at more than 224,000 views. Topping that, our growing trend of “Dunk Dominators” drew more than 303,000 views with the popular, “2017 NCAA Tournament: Best Dunks!” video. And because we couldn’t forget our perennial video favorite – the infamous “Buzzer Beater” – the top ranking video last year was “Top 5 Buzzer Beaters of All Time | NCAA March Madness,” which garnered more than 87,000 total views.

Trends within the Madness: Spikes in Uploads

In 2017, the greatest spike in uploads – a whopping 445% – happened in the couple days immediately following the “First Four” games. And, as to be expected, there were also some smaller spikes around the “Elite 8,” “Final 4,” and “Championship” games.

The big takeaways? The fans have spoken – they are consuming more March Madness video on YouTube than ever before, they favor watching highlights over full games and they love to view nail-biting, crowd pleasing moments like awesome dunks, bracket busters and buzzer beaters. And, they aren’t just watching from the sidelines either—they’ve got their skin in the game, actively uploading new content and contributing to the vast and growing landscape.