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More of you watching tourney than ever

3/22/2011

There's a reason the NCAA got oodles of cash for the television rights to the tournament this summer: Lots of people like to watch the NCAA tournament.

This is nothing new, of course, but fortunately for the NCAA -- and for CBS and Turner, the TV behemoths that gave the Indianapolis-based organization a 10-year, $14.8 billion contract for the TV broadcast rights -- it seems you, the sports consumer, is only growing in your desire to consume the NCAA tournament through a variety of avenues.

The first, of course, is television, where CBS and Turner are reporting a 17 percent average ratings increase over last year's tourney broadcasts. This number is unsurprising: The joint TV rights deal has allowed fans to watch every game of the NCAA tournament at their discretion. In previous years, CBS used a bounce-around system, as well as regional broadcasts, to bring you the tournament. This year, every first-weekend game was no further away than a button on your remote. (This year's NCAA tournament viewers have to be considered among the most nimble, seasoned remote-jockeys in the world.)

Throw in the new staggered start times -- which kept one or more thrilling finishes from truly overlapping at any given time -- and, well, yeah: It's no wonder the tournament ratings went up.

Still, while that might be the best short-term news for the NCAA and its TV partners, it's not necessarily the best news overall. Instead, the NCAA seems most pleased with this information:

NCAA March Madness on Demand has delivered a 47% increase in total visits across the MMOD broadband and mobile products for the first three rounds of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. In total, there were 26.7 million visits across the NCAA online and mobile platforms from the start of the First FourĀ® on March 15 to the completion of the third round on March 20. Additionally, the first three rounds of the tournament garnered 10.3 million total hours of live streaming video consumed through the MMOD broadband and mobile products.

Basically, not only do you, the sports consumer, enjoy watching games on your big ol' flatscreen TV, you also very much enjoy watching it on your iPad, iPhone, laptop and basically any other screen you can get your grubby, spoiled, modern paws on. More than ever, the NCAA tournament is everywhere; unless you totally drop off the grid, chances are you can (and did) watch the NCAA tournament on a "second screen" device.

The best part of all? The MMOD player still has a "boss" button. How quaint. If these numbers are to be believed, then your boss should just give up already. You were watching the tournament anyway.