March Madness : la folie du basket universitaire américain

Chaque année le même rituel : de la mi-mars à début avril la phase finale du championnat de basket universitaire, la March Madness, envahie la vie quotidienne de millions d’américains. Zoom sur un événement pas comme les autres et qui a tout d’un « second Super Bowl ».

Les équipes qui s’affrontent lors de la March Madness (littéralement « la folie de mars ») représentent leurs universités et chaque américain passé par ces vénérables institutions y reste le plus souvent très attaché ce qui est l’une des raisons de cet engouement annuel. Du côté des joueurs, les meilleurs d’entre-eux évolueront sans doute en NBA dans les prochaines saisons. C’est donc l’occasion pour les fans et les clubs de NBA de repérer les nouveaux talents de demain.

Selon l’American Gaming Association, environ 70 millions d’américain feront leurs brackets lors du March Madness générant près de 9 milliards $ de paris soit plus du double du Superbowl (3,9 milliards). Quant à lui, le FBI estime à 2,5 milliards $ le montant des paris illégaux à travers le pays. Les probabilités de remplir un « perfect bracket » sont de 1 sur 9 223 372 036 854 775 808 (ou encore 9,2 quintillion !).

Final Four NCAA 2015

La finale de l’édition 2015, remportée par Duke, a été suivi en moyenne par 28,3 millions d’américains soit la meilleure audience pour le match du titre depuis 1997 (en augmentation de 33% par rapport à 2014 !). L’audience moyenne des 67 matchs du tournoi diffusés par CBS, TNT, TBS et truTV s’élevait l’an dernier à 11,3 millions de téléspectateurs, un niveau record depuis 22 ansMême si le prix d’un spot de 30 secondes n’atteint pas les niveaux records du Super Bowl, les annonceurs ont dépensé en moyenne 1,5 millions $ l’an dernier pour l’ultime match du March Madness. CBS et Turner ont déboursé la somme record de 10,8 milliards $ pour diffuser pendant 14 ans le tournoi (soit 771 M$/ an) réunissant 68 équipes soit une augmentation de 41,5% par rapport au contrat précédent. Selon Kantar Media, les recettes publicitaires des chaînes ont atteint 1,13 milliard $ l’an dernier soit une augmentation de 1,5% par rapport à l’édition 2014.

Le prix d’une place pour l’une des 32 rencontres du premier tour coûte en moyenne 344 dollars. Pour cette année, le prix d’un ticket pour accéder à la finale à Houston lundi prochain, varie de 400 à 5 700 $. 72 238 spectateurs ont assisté au match du titre l’an dernier au Lucas Oil Stadium d’Indianapolis.

L’évènement a un fort impact direct sur l’économie américaine. Les 14 villes accueillant les rencontres empochent des retombées économiques impressionnantes : Dayton (Ohio) qui reçoit un mini-tournoi en début de compétition devrait voir 66 millions $ directement injectés dans son économie locale. Les rencontres du Final Four qui ont lieu cette année à Houston au NRG Stadium auront un impact positif de 300 millions $ sur le tissu économique de la métropole texane.

College Basketball: NCAA Final Four: UConn Shabazz Napier (13) in action, pass vs Kentucky Dakari Johnson (44) at AT&T Stadium. Arlington, TX 4/7/2014 CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X158058 TK1 R7 F121 )

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