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NCAA Basketball Selection Sunday Web Performance Analysis

Web Performance

March Madness is here. Millions of Americans are filling in their brackets online, predicting the Final Four and inevitably who will come up on top. And while the odds of creating a perfect bracket are roughly one in 2.4 trillion, the excitement continues year after year and thus, web traffic to the top sports sites gets even higher. 

The full field of 68 teams who made it to the NCAA tournament was announced in the evening of March 13. This day is known as Selection Sunday, and is a very important day to sports websites as they compete against each other for bracket sign-ups. As a college hoops fan (Go VCU!) and web performance fanatic, I found it very fitting to measure and report on the performance of the top 10 sports sites on Selection Sunday.


  • Date: 3/13 (Selection Sunday)
  • Sites Measured: 10
  • Measurements Times and Locations: Multi-Hour from various US locations
  • Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time
  • Reported Metric: Geometric Mean

Please Note: Each time stamp represents an hour's worth of measurements. Example: 7:00pm measurements represent all measurements between 7:00pm and 7:59pm.

Performance Overview

  • #1 Fastest Site: Yahoo Sports - 2.40 sec avg page speed
  • #2 Fastest Site: CBSSports - 6.60 sec avg page speed
  • #1 Slowest Site: Sports Illustrated - 13.97 sec avg page speed
  • #2 Slowest Site: Deadspin - 12.66 sec avg page speed

NCAA selection Sunday top 10 average performance

NCAA selection Sunday top 10 average page speed over time

Performance Impact of Selection Sunday

4 out of 10 sites declined significantly in site speed between 5pm and 10pm. The full bracket was announced at 6:47pm on CBS. Clearly, the spike in traffic to these sites after the bracket was released impacted page load times.

  • SB Nation: 25% decline in performance
  • NBC Sports: 21% decline in performance
  • FOX Sports: 16% decline in performance
  • Yahoo Sports: 14% decline in performance

NCAA selection Sunday top 10 performance impact

While ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, and Deadspin were the slowest sports sites on Selection Sunday, they did not have performance pains after the selection show.

Performance Matters

Performance directly impacts user experience and revenue (and bracket sign-ups). Here at Blue Triangle, we quantify where and how much page speed impacts online businesses. We recently helped Microsoft Store grow revenues by 25% in just one year. Find out more about what we do and how we do it.


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