Basketball Bracket Drives $60K Slam Dunk for Station

by Kate Lowe WLEX-TV

Case Study Highlights

  • $60,000 in revenue from campaign
  • $43,000 from advertiser bracket alone
  • 58% increase in pageviews
  • 1,000+ opt-ins for title sponsor

The Idea

WLEX is a DMA 64 television station in Lexington, KY – right in the heart of University of Kentucky Wildcats country. Around here, the March basketball tournament is one of the biggest events of the year, and we wanted to capitalize on this.

While we had run a basketball bracket in the past, it had been more than five years, and we knew we had the opportunity to make this a big success. If we could find the right advertisers and have a strong promotional strategy, we had high hopes of scoring a ton of revenue and engagement.

Around the same time, we had recently started a new local show and website called Hey Kentucky! and were looking for a way to drive traffic to the website. Making Hey Kentucky! the host of the basketball bracket would likely give us the exposure and branding we were looking for.

Basketball Bracket Drives $60K

The Execution

We started planning out our campaign in January, and by early February we were reaching out to potential advertisers. To increase our revenue opportunities, we created multiple sponsorship levels at different sponsorship investments.

Our Presenting Sponsor was Raising Cane’s, a national fast food chain. For a sponsorship investment of $6,500 Raising Cane’s was given prime placement on all of our bracket branding on our website and in any emails. The restaurant was also provided with an email opt-in on the contest registration page. In addition to their sponsorship investment, Raising Cane’s also provided a year of free chicken ($415 value) for one local winner.

We also offered three Supporting Sponsorships for a $3,500 sponsorship investment to Central Kentucky Truck and Trailer, a local Edward Jones advisor, and the Corbin Arena (a concert venue). These three businesses also had their branding on all promotional materials and provided a prize valued at over $50.

Sponsorship Packages Leverage All Aspects

Additionally, we offered one other sponsorship to Ale-8-One, a local soft drink distributor and longtime advertiser with WLEX. Ale-8-One put together two large prize baskets (each valued over $100) for the winners of the best 16-team bracket and the best 4-team bracket.

We knew the success of our bracket would rely heavily on participation. We had a strong marketing blitz including website ads, interstitials on our weather app, live mentions on Hey Kentucky!, and promo spots on WLEX.


Email is one of our biggest drivers of participation, so we leveraged an email campaign leading up to and during the bracket season.

Email Drives Participation

We also leveraged our core product. Since we were interested in driving fans to the Hey Kentucky! show, the bracket had a rotating spot on the show and a hosted segment to talk about the tournament. We also leveraged the VIP Pickers within the bracket itself. Our entire sports department and some other WLEX faces participated.

VIP Pickers Drive Engagement

After listening to last year’s Second Street basketball webinar, the Journal Star shared an additional opportunity to increase our revenue through our Advertiser Bracket Challenge. We took their lead and created our own.

For every $500 in incremental spend with our station, advertisers could sponsor a team (or multiple teams) within the 64 team team bracket for the chance to win additional advertising with WLEX. Each round offered a new advertising benefit such as additional ad impressions, a mobile takeover ad, or tv promo spots.

Advertiser Bracket Drives $43K

The Results

We were blown away by the success of our bracket. Not only did we get a lot of participation, but the entire campaign brought in $60,380 for WLEX-TV ($36,000 broadcast and $24,000 from digital). Of this amount, $43,000 came directly from our advertiser bracket.

But it wasn’t all about revenue. We wanted to increase traffic to our new Hey Kentucky! website. Throughout the tournament, we saw a 51% increase in visitors to as well as a 58% increase in pageviews.

Our advertisers were also pleased with the results. Our title sponsor received over 1,000 opt-ins to add to their database, and many of the advertisers are already talking about participating in next year’s basketball campaign.

The success of our first bracket has us inspired to do even bigger and better things next year. We’re already planning on incorporating additional pieces to our campaign such as quizzes or a photo contest, and we’ve also seen we can charge more for the sponsorships of our advertiser bracket as well. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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