One of my favorite times of the year are the first two days of the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, better known as March Madness. I sit on the sofa in a stupor, watching games from morning till midnight.
This year, not only can I watch the games on television but I can also sit with my laptop and watch any game on the ad-supported March Madness on Demand — with no blackouts, according to paidcontent.org. (FAQ.)
Until now, CBS Sports has protected local affiliates by maintaining similar blackout rules online as it has on air, keeping the “local” games TV-only. It also stopped coverage after the first 56 games, focusing all attention on the TV broadcast.
It’s refreshing to see a major network embrace the Internet and streaming content, rather than fear it. As Jason Kint, senior vice president and general manager of CBSSports.com, told paidcontent, “It’s an across-the-board decision by all the parnters that this is additive — not cannibalistic.”
March Madness on Demand streamed 2,598,889 total hours live to 1,381,875 total unique users, many of whom were believed to have watched the tournament at work. More than 132 million viewers tuned in at some point to watch games on CBS.
Kint said this year’s March Madness on Demand will be a better viewing experience, as there is a revamped media player at 640 x 360 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. There will be no high definition streaming.