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Basketball fans turn in droves to NCAA tournament coverage’s NCAA March Madness on Demand attracted 2.7 million unique visitors to the NCAA March Madness on Demand video player on the first day of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, according to traffic figures released last week.

That figure represents 56 percent growth in video player visits from last year on the first day of the tournament. In total, basketball fans streamed 2.8 million hours of live video and audio of the games, up 65 percent from last year.

An oft cited reason for the popularity of the Internet presentation of the games is their scheduling, which occurs during the work day. conveniently includes a “Boss Button” that hides the video player from suspicious employers. That feature, too, proved popular on the opening day of the tournament, registering 1.5 million clicks. Last year, nervous employees registered a total of 2.5 million clicks to bale out from the coverage for the entire tournament.

"The extremely strong growth we've seen from NCAA March Madness on Demand from day one of the tournament reinforces the fact that this event is the largest and most popular live sports event on the Internet," said Jason Kint, senior VP and general manager,

Another likely reason for the growth is an effort on the part of to offer a development kit that makes it simple for Web sites and bloggers to integrate the video player into their sites. Hundreds of Web and mobile properties signed up to participate in the NCAA March Madness on Demand Developer Platform.