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CBS ‘March Madness’ On Demand Traffic Up 60%

23 Mar, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

President Obama may have been a perfect 8-0 predicting last weekend’s winners on the way to determine the 2009 NCAA Division I men's basketball champion, but CBS Corp. is already a winner.

CBSSports.com March 23 said unique users of its March Madness On Demand (MMOD) video player increased 60% to 5.6 million through March 22 games. The tally surpassed online unique user traffic for the entire 2008 tournament.

There have been 6.5 million total hours of video and audio consumed thus far — a 71% increase over 2008 figures.

Interestingly the March 19 first-round game between Cal State Northridge and Memphis has been the most-watched game online thus far in the 2009 tournament.

Separately, CBS Sports said television viewing of March Madness was up 6% from last year, a tally that underscored the strength of TV versus online on weekends.
This would suggest MMOD is primarily frequented during work hours (during Thursday and Friday games) and less so on Saturday and Sunday, when viewers have greater access to television.

“It peaks in the very beginning, Thursday and Friday, and then pretty much tails off as the TV ratings rise,” said a person familiar with online user data.

The source said that as the tournament progressed with later round games playing in prime time, online numbers would react accordingly.

“We get a lot of traffic when people are in situations or places where they don’t have access to a TV,” the source said.

Regardless, CBS, which in 1999 paid $6 billion for the exclusive broadcast and digital rights to March Madness, is mining incremental revenue at every turn.

“The network’s NCAA bundled rights agreement has proven to be an early star in this year's championship,” said Sean McManus, president, CBS Sports and CBS News.


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