Like green beer, stinky cabbage and your office NCAA pool picks, CBS’s live streaming presentations of March Madness proved to be a bittersweet March tradition.
Herky jerky video, pointless viewer registrations and the purgatory of a bandwidth “waiting room” all irritated followers of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Still, 4.7 million tuned in, and at least it was free — unlike on DirecTV.
This year, though, it looks like CBS Interactive has a chance at cutting down the net. Starting today, all NCAA tourney games will be flowing with what CBS says is plenty of bandwidth for all, no waiting, no b.s.
Also, a higher-quality (HQ) stream will flow via Microsoft’s Silverlight video platform. You’ll recall that was used last summer for NBC’s Olympics. This time, look for better results: Silverlight works for Macs and presumably a lot of the bugs are toast.
Webmasters not opposed to promo freebies can use the new “March Madness on Demand” links, popup players and widgets to offer links and popups to game coverage. (View the popup player below, use the link.)
The iPhone and iPod Touch also are in the game with a $4.99 app that brings in all games, but only if you’re currently on wi-fi. (Of course, if the iPhone is in wi-fi range, you’d probably be watching on a computer, right?) For those on Edge or 3G, the iPhone basketball app delivers audio of all games. Odd, because CBS Interactive already has an iPhone app that runs on 3G. Looks like the NCAA iPhone app is a low seed, but someone somewhere will find it a godsend.
Online video provider Joost tried a P2P version of live NCAA coverage last year, but there’s no sign of a repeat on its new browser-based service. The noble Joost “experiment” received mixed marks from viewers, at best.
CBS said it has nearly sold out advertising for its NCAA live streaming content, with something like $30 million from 35-plus sponsors. In the online video world, that’s big money. Last year’s MMOD revenues were about $23 million, Media Week reported.
None of that good news will get my Gators out of the NIT. Ugh.
Check out the March Madness popup player