03.28.2008 08:43 AM
Online March Madness viewing doubles

The use of the free Internet complement to CBS’ live HD broadcasts of the men’s basketball tournament — NCAA March Madness on Demand — more than doubled during last week’s first round, rising to 1.75 million users.

Two factors were attributed to the dramatic increase. First, it was no longer necessary to register to view the material. And secondly, more than 200 sites — such as ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, Facebook.com and SI.com — now carry the content. Previously, the content was only on CBSSports.com and NCAAsports.com.

“We were coming off 10 percent growth for the entire tournament last year,” Jason Kint, senior VP and general manager of CBSSports.com, told the “New York Times.” “So, we knew we could move the needle.”

However, Kint said he was surprised by the 122 percent increase. He was hoping, at best, for 50 percent growth in users.

“We know have a higher visibility for the product,” Kint told the “Times,” adding that the enormous popularity of ESPN and Yahoo’s sites has been crucial to the higher traffic.

More games are also available on demand this year because the site will not be shut down after the round of 16. Blackout restrictions were also lifted, allowing viewers see the same game online that CBS showed in each individual market.

Advertising revenues of at least $21 million are projected, more than doubling last year’s $10 million windfall, CBS said.

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