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Thursday, March 13, 2008

CBSSports Sets Precedent With March Madness

Forget about office productivity this month. For the first time every game of the NCAA college basketball championship will be streamed online for free through many webites.

CBSSports.com owns the online rights and made the smart decision that selling ads around the event is much more profitable than pay per view. CBSSports will stream the event through ESPN.com, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo! Sports, and SportsIllustrated.com. Going even further the company also is allowing anyone to integrate the media player through a developer program.

It's almost certain that this will be the most viewed stream event in history. The companies that own other events could learn well from this event. Other sports events -- such as allstar games, the final games of important players careers, and the Super Bowl -- should also go this route. Not only does it maximize the online ad revenue from the event -- the March Madness tournament will double revenue -- it builds the fan base in the long run and will increase the TV viewing audience. Event promoters must realize that in nearly all cases people prefer to watch the game on a TV, so streaming online is not a threat to their TV ad revenue.

CBSSports is milking the event by showing archives of past games and creating highlight packages of this year's tournament games for streaming online. You can bet that Facebook and MySpace users everywhere will be linking to their schoool's victories to rub it in the faces of their rivals. There's also a Facebook application for picking and tracking the brackets, an annual office pool right that could become the most used Facebook app ever.

So congrats to CBSSports for setting the bar high for all sports events. Let's just hope their servers can keep up with the traffic.

By John Gartner at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

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