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NCAA March Madness 2014 Wins Big With Streaming Video

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Get the straightjackets! It’s that time once again when the boys of B-Ball finish their season as the Boys of Summer stretch their hammies in Spring Training. When the Colleges pit teams of giants against each other in the gladiatorial arena known as the basketball court. The time of brackets, tournaments, dunks, alley-oops and air balls. March Madness has returned! This year it’s breaking its own records in terms of online streams and more.

Dozens of college basketball teams duel on the hardwood this month as March Madness returns and the NCAA tournament is in full swing. Again this year loads of it is available through online streaming, mostly in a subscription or pay-per-view sort of way. According to the broadcasters, online is going mad more than ever before thanks in part to Turner Sports’ mobile apps and the web-based NCAA March Madness Live Service. It has topped its previous numbers for video streams and engagement for the first three days of the tournament thanks in part to some underdogs who were never ready to give up, and some big dogs who had to fight to the finish to survive.

Three days meant 21 million live streams which was a dramatic 42% increase from last year. It also meant over 4 million hours of live video, 18% more according to Turner who was pointing to Omniture, Conviva and Bango metrics.

Oh yeah, it’s big on TV too I guess. Even bigger news, if you’re one to fixate on this sort of thing, is that they haven’t had any service outages a la HBO or ABC. Seems the sporting types have got their zeros and ones in order for orderly delivery to the masses. Bully for them!

So Why the Growth Spurt?

The acrobatic soar in streams could be attributed to not only a sturdy and reliable service but also the mass appeal of smartphones and tablets and their portability. What better way to shrink those nigh seven-foot tall athletes down to pocket size for work, class or commute? Both mobile platforms saw meteoric rises in live streams (87% up) and viewing hours (53% up) in the same three day period. No platform specifics though so we don’t know which was better. But given the Millennials love of their smartphones I bet they did a fair share of streams and hours.

Needless to say, striking the streaming video trifecta of audience, stability and compelling content is giving Turner Sports more bang for their buck.

Close Contests Draw Crowds

There were some big match ups that had some close games in the first few days which had to have helped the streaming numbers. For example, Dayton vs Ohio State which drew 4.588M streams thanks to the one point win by the #11 Dayton Flyers upsetting the #6 seeded Ohio State and knocking them out of the tourney. Second was Harvard vs. Cincinnati with 2.74M streams because the #5 Bearcats couldn’t match up to the #12 Harvard Crimson. St. Joseph’s and Uconn went to overtime and pulled 1.4M streams, ND State took out higher ranked Oklahoma in fair style and pulled 1.37M streams and Albany’s Great Danes got chomped by #1 Florida’s gators while netting 1.34M streams.

So high ranked teams and scrappy underdogs made for lots of streams. Apparently, the tournament is also on offense on the social media sites with 1.1 million Twitter comments in three days (39% increase).

Like I said, tech savvy audience + perfect streaming service + compelling content = BOOM!

Or in old video game terms… They’re on FIRE!!


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