If it’s March, it must be time for another dramatic spike in Internet TV viewing thanks to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and CBSSports.com.
Last year, more 4.75 million unique visitors used the NCAA March Madness on Demand video player to view nearly 5 million cumulative hours of tournament games online. That represents 164 percent year-over-year growth for unique viewers compared to 2007, and 81 percent growth in cumulative time.
While extremely high fan interest in the tournament and scheduling that puts games squarely in prime work hours may be two important factors contributing to last year’s dramatic growth, the availability of the NCAA March Madness on Demand Developer Platform that let more than 200 partner sites offer their visitors live streams of the tournament was another factor.
This year, CBSSports.com is expanding its developer platform program, adding more high-profile partners and making it simple for anyone to add the NCAA March Madness experience to a site or blog. New high-profile participants include USAToday.com, CBS Interactive properties including TV.com, CNET.com and GameSpot.com, as well as other partners across the CBS Audience Network and sites for CBS Television and Radio stations and affiliates.
Another new feature is an open suite of widgets and applications covering all stages of the tournament. The tools will let Web developers select from a variety of professional content from CBS Sports and add it to their sites. Among the content served up by the widgets will be brackets, live scores and news.
The upgraded NCAA March Madness on Demand Developer Platform also lets developers choose from five different options to integrate live video from the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship via the NCAA March Madness on Demand video player. The code providing all of the tools and information needed to link directly to live streaming video from NCAA March Madness on Demand will be available March 10.
In addition to being available on Windows Media and Flash, this year NCAA March Madness on Demand users will have the option to download the Microsoft Silverlight HD-quality video player for an enhanced stream. Both the standard video player and the HD option are ad supported and will be offered free.
"NCAA March Madness on Demand has become much more than a CBSSports.com and NCAA production; it's now an event that the whole Internet is embracing," said CBSSports.com senior VP and general manager Jason Kint.