03.23.2009 04:50 PM
CBS Jumps With March Madness

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.: It’s down to the Sweet Sixteen, but it’s already apparent that the biggest winner in March Madness is CBS Sports. The broadcaster is seeing increases in both online viewership and over the air.

For the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, the overnight metered-market Nielsen numbers were up about 6 percent from 2008 with games averaging a 5.4 rating and a 12 share, according to TV Week.

Online, CBSSports.com reported that 2.7 million unique visitors accessed the NCAA March Madness on Demand video player, an increase of 56 percent from last year, on the first day of the tournament, March 19. A total of 2.8 million hours of live streaming video was delivered, up from 1.75 million hours in 2008.

There were also 1.5 million clicks of the “Boss Button,” which replaces the basketball stream with a faux spreadsheet.

The on-demand video player is powered by Microsoft Silverlight, which supports HD streaming at up to 1.5 Mbps. An SD player is also available.

“NCAA March Madness on Demand continues to regularly exceed our most optimistic expectations," said Sean McManus, President, CBS Sports and CBS News. "The combination of the television ratings being up 9 percent [for the first night of March Madness] and the continued steady growth of the Internet and wireless provides unprecedented viewing options for the fans and maximizes the Network's NCAA bundled rights agreement.” 

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