With all eyes on the Sweet Sixteen, CBS is eyeing a pretty sweet advertising sweep. Despite no-shows from former key financial advertisers, ad buys for the NCAA tournament held strong thanks to multiplatform deals with sponsoring companies like General Motors, which passed on the Super Bowl but upheld its multiyear NCAA deal. CBSSports.com was looking at a 30% jump in revenue for the tournament (translation – just shy of $30 million), and a record number of VOD hours means record advertising opportunities on cable. John Bogusz, CBS’ EVP of sports sales and marketing, and Steve Herbst, EVP/GM at CBS College Sports Network, tell Cathy Applefeld Olson where they got hit this year and which categories shine at the big dance.

What trends did you see in the deals leading up to this year’s tournament?

JB:  The overall environment is challenging, and the biggest trend is that the financial companies are not spending as they were in the past. That category represented a fair amount of volume for us and while we still have some financial companies with us, a number of them—like AIG and Wachovia—are not back.

Did any new companies or categories embrace tournament advertising this year?

JB:  Autos have been there; fast foods have been there. I’d say the category that has picked up this year has been the tech category, including Microsoft and others.

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