March Madness: Why NIL Will Be The Star Player

March Madness: Why NIL Will Be The Star Player

Michael Lewis

Professor of Marketing; Faculty Director, Emory Marketing Analytics Center,  Emory University, Goizueta Business School

Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) is a hot topic this month as March Madness kicks off and college basketball players take advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on their value. Last year’s tournament (2022) was the first in which athletes could make money from NIL.

On Sunday, the brackets were set … and college basketball may have another Cinderella story that takes fans on a new journey to the Final Four.

Goizueta Business School marketing professor Mike Lewis leads research on sports fandom and why the connection matters to the teams, the players, the universities and the NCAA.

This year, Professor Lewis expects to see more players working overtime on their NIL contracts. His latest research on fandom found:

  • The national attention a player can get during the tournament can quickly become an opportunity for merchandise.
  • Last year, Saint Peter’s Doug Edert started the tournament as just a good basketball player but ended with deals from Buffalo Wild Wings and Barstool Sports as his team was the 2022 Cinderella story.
  • Gen Z is most engaged with sports when there is continuous movement - sports like soccer, esports and even basketball.
  • Among Gen Z fans, females are more likely to be avid basketball fans than males in the same age bracket. This is an important consideration as leagues and sponsors work to connect with the consumer.

Fanalytics Research -

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