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Indianapolis hosts seventh NCAA Final Four, sets records across multiple events

The 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four marked the seventh Men’s Final Four hosted in Indianapolis, setting several attendance and viewership records.

The two-session Final Four attendance totaled 143,387, the highest ever attendance for Lucas Oil Stadium. The semifinals also marked a Lucas Oil Stadium attendance record with 72,238 fans, and this year marked the fourth highest attended national championship game with 71,149 fans in attendance.

“Indianapolis has historically been an outstanding host for the Men’s Final Four – tied for second-most hosted Final Fours – and this year’s event certainly lived up to that standard,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president for men’s basketball championships. “The Final Four featured three exciting basketball games and a host of wonderful fan events, including youth clinics, the March Madness Music Festival and the Final Four Fan Fest. We’re proud to work with the Horizon League, IUPUI and the Indiana Sports Corp, which once again put on an outstanding overall event for college basketball fans.”

A record-breaking 2,069 credentials were issued to members of the media for this year’s Final Four.

Broadcast/digital viewership

Turner Sports exclusive presentation of the national semifinals across TBS, TNT and truTV grossed 16.4 million total viewers and the Kentucky-Wisconsin game became the most-viewed college basketball game of all time on a cable television network. 

The NCAA Final Four National Semifinals doubleheader – including Duke vs. Michigan State – averaged an 11.4/22 overnight rating/share to register as the highest average overnight rating for a doubleheader in 20 years. The National Semifinals were up 39 percent over last year.

CBS coverage of the NCAA national championship had 27 million viewers with a 17.1 HH coverage rating, up 33 percent from last year’s game and marking the highest overnight rating in 18 years.

Beyond the national reach, ESPN International broadcast the games to 170 countries and territories.

 “The Final Four is truly one of the greatest American sporting events, and fans from across the United States and the world were treated to exciting college basketball action from Lucas Oil Stadium,” said Scott Barnes, the director of athletics at Utah State University and chair of the Division I men’s basketball committee. “Indianapolis was a great host city and helped make the entire experience truly special for the student-athletes and the fans.”

In addition to the record-breaking television audience, more people tuned in using the NCAA March Madness Live app. Across online and mobile (tablets and smart phones) platforms, the two semifinal games netted 6 million live streams for an increase of 59 percent over last year. The doubleheader also combined to register more than 1.5 million hours of live video consumed, up 53 percent over 2014. The national championship game registered a record-setting 3.4 million live video streams, up 66 percent from 2014, and more than one million hours of live video consumptions, up 69 percent from last year.

Over the course of the tournament, viewers streamed 80.7 million live video streams (up 17 percent from 2014). A total of 17.8 million live hours were watched (up 19 percent from 2014).

The NCAA tournament grossed a record 350 million total social impressions across Facebook and Twitter for a 45 percent increase over 2014. The Final Four event app was downloaded 34,763 times – the most in the three-year history of the app. Fans engaged with the Final Four games three million times on social media, marking a 288 percent increase over last year, and a total of 70 million social impressions were generated across Twitter and Facebook during the Final Four weekend.

Fan events and participation

NCAA’s Final Four week included a variety of fan events produced by Turner Live Events. More than 76,832 people attended Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One, which set an all-time record. An additional 141,000 fans enjoyed the three-day March Madness Music Festival, which is the second-highest attendance after the music festival in Atlanta (2013), which drew 195,000 fans. The three-day music festival included performances by Imagine Dragons and Weezer at the AT&T Block Party; Rihanna at the Coca-Cola Zero Countdown; and Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum and Kacey Musgraves at the Capital One JamFest.

Approximately 3,200 youth, along with additional parents and guardians, participated in the Final Four Dribble refreshed by Coca-Cola on Sunday, April 5, receiving t-shirts and basketballs plus free admission to the Final Four Fan Fest.

More than 25,000 fans attended Reese’s Final Four Friday, viewing the four teams’ open practices and the Reese’s College All-Star Game on Friday, April 3.

A record-breaking 1,324 runners participated in the Northwestern Mutual Road to the Final Four 5K on Saturday, April 4. The proceeds benefit the Coaches vs. Cancer program, a nationwide collaborative effort between the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches that empowers coaches, teams and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

The NCAA also set a Guinness World Record for Largest Sports Tournament Bracket, which was located on the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. Designed and built by Sport Graphics, the bracket covered 44,000 square-feet and measured 165 feet tall. More than 800 gigabytes of data was used to create the graphic – the data equivalent of watching a 1,142 hour-long movie on a computer.

Local impact

Through its partnerships with Lowe’s, Dream Courts and the Nancy Lieberman Foundation, the NCAA built an outdoor basketball court at the Concord Community Center and refurbished an additional indoor recreation facility at JTV Hill Park.

The various youth programs impacted more than 23,000 children, including the Read to the Final Four program, Coca-Cola youth clinics and the Recycle to the Final Four program. More than 11,000 youth participated in the NCAA Team Works Community 101 program through service learning projects, allowing them to determine needs in their own communities and learn about social responsibility.

The NCAA also engaged in several sustainability initiatives. Coca-Cola provided recycling bins at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indiana Convention Center, White River State Park and at other ancillary events including the Final Four Dribble refreshed by Coca-Cola and on Georgia Street. In addition LG partnered with the NCAA and Indiana Host Committee to host a free electronics recycling event, which resulted in 25,642 pounds of recycled electronics.

 More than 2,300 volunteers were active throughout Final Four week.