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March Madness catches on everywhere

It will be hard to hide from college basketball during March Madness this year. Though the tournament doesn’t even begin until March 19, “madness on demand” is already on media outlets everywhere.

Continuing to grow in prominence, the phenomenon now grips the national sports psyche from the first week of March through the first week of April. It encompasses the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. The outcomes of these games determine the national champions of college basketball.

CBS College Sports Network and the NCAA have already turned the games into a giant, multivenue, video-on-demand event. Cable and satellite began their pre-madness on-demand coverage on March 2 with highlights from past events and archival segments, presented in SD and HD.

At least 20 TV outlets are carrying March Madness events, and there will be more to come. They include Comcast, DIRECTV, Verizon FiOS, Charter, Mediacom, Insight, Service Electric, Bresnan, Bend Broadband and Atlantic Broadband.

Online, there’s the NCAA itself and its many partners. Online coverage provides free live coverage of the 63 games and will archive tournament play for viewing shortly after the games are over. The league even offers online instructions for partners on how to set up a Web site to carry the live coverage.

A highlights package will be accumulated from the first four days of play in the tournament. Afterward, from the Sweet 16 regional semifinals through the national championship game April 6, there will be individual segments running about three minutes each. That on-demand content will become available to distributors the next morning.

CBS College Sports is partnering with more than 100 colleges to promote the games on their Web sites and is doing grassroots marketing on the campuses themselves. There will also be extensive on-air promotion on CBS,, Showtime and CBS College Sports is providing all partners with customized crosschannel spots, Web banners and ad slicks.

This year, March Madness will even pull from the Motown mystique. In a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Motown and Final Four taking place at Ford Field, sports music videos, featuring tournament highlights, will be set to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and “Higher Ground.”