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Basketball is Being Good to CBS

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.: Coverage of the men’s college basketball championship tournament continues to boost CBS. The network’s TV coverage maintained a 6 percent rating increase over last year through the first four days, while online traffic is now up 60 percent over 2008.

The numbers don’t include folks watching on TV in sports bars, health clubs or other out-of-home situations. Neither do they account for viewing on mobile devices, for which CBS stretched the reach of March Madness this year.

The network is distributing all 65 games on mobile platforms compared to less than half that number last year USA Today (opens in new tab) reported. Apple even developed a March Madness app that makes CBS’s game video available on the iPhone, a bonus for advertisers paying $300,000 to $1.2 billion per 30-second TV spot.

Online, CBS said it had 5.6 million unique visitors using its March Madness on Demand video player through Sunday. (The first two days--Thursday and Friday--netted 2.7 million, reported yesterday.) Over the same period last year, the site had 3.5 million views. Users streamed a total of 6.5 million hours of A/V content, up 71 percent from last year.

The “Boss Button,” which hides the viewer so fans can sneak peeks at work but which TVB knows not, was used 2.5 million times in four days, compared to the same number of times for the entire tourney last year.

Thus far, the first-round game between Cal. State Northridge and Memphis has been the most watched game. The Final Four games will be broadcast April 4 – 6 from Ford Field in Detroit. -- Deborah D. McAdams