The Final Four is the culmination of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which lasts for the better part of three weeks. It is also the climax for sponsors who spend thousands if not millions of dollars to reach their target audience and increase brand awareness. This year was a huge success because the teams in the Final Four represented four of the biggest conferences.

With national media coverage and fan base, the Final Four is an ideal setting to monitor the sponsors’ websites for performance. How did the different websites perform during the Final Four with respect to load time? Were the sites down at any time during the tournament? Did their pages experience any errors when rendering? The following sponsors were selected to be monitored by Neustar Web Performance Management: Anheuser-Busch, Capital One, Coca-Cola, Ford, General Motors, Pizza Hut, Southwest and State Farm. The NCAA website was also monitored as games were streamed live. The websites were monitored from two domestic locations and two international locations.

Average Load time in seconds

Sponsor March 31 April 2
Anheuser-Busch 5.67 5.98
Capital One 5.95 4.91
Coca-Cola 4.29 4.45
Ford 12.07 12.29
General Motors 4.87 5.42
Pizza Hut 3.55 3.65
Southwest 3.74 3.84
State Farm 3.57 3.21

On average, all the websites with the exception of Ford, loaded within 6 seconds. Some were slightly faster than others. For example, Pizza Hut, Southwest and State Farm all loaded within less than 4 seconds. Numerous studies have shown that slow loading websites can result in lost revenues. Most users will abandon a website after 5 seconds if it has not loaded. For Pizza Hut, it was imperative that their website loaded quickly during the tournament because consumers could log onto their website and order pizza during the game. Load testing is essential to ensure that your website can handle the anticipated increased traffic.

Interestingly, some sponsors’ average load time even improved from the semifinals to the finals. Capital One, for example, improved their load time from 5.95 seconds to 4.91 seconds. As expected, all the websites were up 100% of the time and did not experience any downtime.

Knowing that consumers expect their website to load quickly and without errors, sponsors for the NCAA tournament were well prepared. The majority of them loaded in less than 6 seconds and all sponsors experienced no downtime.

dot March Madness Final Four: How did the sponsors perform?