CBS Sports plans to draw millions of basketball fans with March Madness on Demand, its first free Webcasts of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Men's basketball tournament beginning this week.
To see a Webcast, viewers register at NCAASports.com — operated by CBS's SportsLine unit — and then watch games live on the site. Viewers have their choice of any game except for the one being broadcast by the local CBS affiliate. The network determines which game to blackout based on the location of the viewer’s computer.
Fans can also watch games after they're played or view highlights and other features. The live Webcasts will continue until the tournament is down to eight teams.
Although sports Webcasts are not new, the March Madness event could be a turning point for Web-distributed sports programming. The Webcasts will be paid for with advertising, it could draw the biggest online viewership ever. Live 8, a series of 10 worldwide benefit concerts broadcast on Time Warner’s AOL Music portal last July, holds the record, with 5 million same-day viewers.