March Madness is one of the big tent-pole sports events in the U.S., and this year social video, particularly content uploaded to Instagram, has driven the most engagement for #MarchMadness related online-video.

Instagram Video’s dominance of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship may be a shock to those who have been following the trajectory of Facebook video success in the past few months. But a huge number of fans and viewers have embraced short-form video for their basketball news and highlights, and are using Instagram to not only upload March Madness related content, but also to engage with it.

March Madness: Instagram Video Generates 64% Engagement

Of the 13,000 videos relating to “March Madness” content that have been uploaded in the last 30 days, Instagram Video has captured an incredible 64% of viewer engagements, compared to 19% for Facebook native video uploads, and 14% for Vine uploads.

march madness online video engagement

Most engaged #MarchMadness related video content by platform from uploads in last 30 days. (Data via Tubular Labs)

In terms of viewer engagement, most of the top 30 videos related to March Madness were either user-generated, or uploaded by sports or team channels like sportscenter, Bleacher Report, Michigan State Spartans, or the official NCAA March Madness Facebook page.

There’s also a lack of visibility from big name broadcasters, with only CBS making an appearance, and GoPro is the only major brand to appear in the list of the top 30 most engaged videos. No video content by any of the sponsors of the month-long event dents the chart.

#MarchMadness 2015: Why Are Fans Turning to Instagram?

So why are #MarchMadness fans turning to Instagram? According to a recent study, Instagram is the 2nd most popular app for 14-24 year olds, with Pew Research also confirming that 53% of Internet-using 18-to 29-year-old Americans use Instagram on a daily basis, up from 37% in 2013.

We took a look into who was watching March Madness video content to see if the data matched the research into which age-group was most engaged with social video. The overwhelming majority of video views for March Madness content come from 18-24 year old men based in the U.S., with that age-group proving to be the most engaged female demographic too. With that age-group so active on the Instagram platform, it’s no surprise that video engagement is so high:

march madness demographic

Audience Insights: Who is engaging with #MarchMadness video content across major video platforms? (Data via Tubular Labs)

Another reason could be the ever-increasing use of mobile in general, both to upload content, and to consume and engage with it. In a recent whitepaper, Google predicts that March Madness 2015 may be the most “mobile” ever, with 60% of searches for college basketball related content coming via mobile devices. Fans are using their smartphones and tablets to stay up-to-date with matches, incidents, commentary, and reports.

March Madness 2015: Top 5 Performing Videos

  1. In terms of top performing videos and viewer engagement, pop star Rihanna scores the highest with her 03/06/2015 upload to Instagram. The Instavid has already generated 263K likes, and 6,599 comments.
  2. In second place is GoPro with its crazy trickshot capture entitled “David Kalb vs. the rest of the teams playing today“. Uploaded on the 19th March, it has attracted 139K likes, and 3,154 comments in just 5 days. GoPro has an incredibly active Instagram account, and its 4.5M followers are some of the most engaged on the platform.
  3. In at third place comes perennial favorite America’s Funniest Home Videos, with it’s “Alright #MarchMadness, Let’s do this!” compilation, uploaded to Facebook.
  4. The fourth most popular #MarchMadness video uploaded in the past 30 days belongs to CNN sports anchor Rachel Nichols whose “This is what happens when Reggie Miller gets itchy in an empty gym as we’re waiting for NCAA March” video generated 26K Facebook Likes, 19K Facebook shares, and 2,363 comments. The video was picked up by CBS, USAToday, and Fox, among other sites.
  5. Fifth place goes to BasketballVines, with its 6-second snapshot of an incredible father-son moment from this year’s event. Watch Ron Hunter react to his son, R.J. Hunter as he lands a 3-pointer that gave the Panthers a 57-56 victory in the Georgia St.-Baylor game.

Data set inclusive from 02/25/15 to 03/25/15, based on engagement statistics.