The NCAA tournament doesn't tip off until March 19, but cable, satellite and telco video subscribers can immerse themselves in the madness on demand, courtesy of CBS College Sports Network and the association.
Class is already in session for “NCAA VOD: The Best of March Madness,” with more content assets, more affiliates and more marketing support for the sophomore season of the program. The effort began March 2 with the first batch of content assets, featuring great moments from NCAA men's basketball tournaments past, being made available to the various distributors' on-demand platforms.
Produced by CBS Sports, CBS College Sports Network, Thought Equity Motion and the NCAA, “The Best of March Madness” VOD package comprises ad-free customized highlights for the 63 tournament games, plus 40 archival vignettes, in standard- and high-definition formats. Extending last year's window, the content will be available through April 30.
“March Madness is a huge event and VOD is an asset that MSOs and other distributors can use to differentiate their products and drive their business,” said CBS College Sports executive vice president of distribution Bob Rose.
He would not discuss financial terms, but noted: “It doesn't come free. But there's a good value equation that everybody's looking at.”
In expanding its distribution bench, DirecTV is joining such providers as Comcast, Verizon Communications' FiOS TV, Charter Communications, Mediacom Communications, Insight Communications, Bresnan Communications, Bend Broadband, Atlantic Broadband and Service Electric.
CBS College Sports, which had inked deals with 20 providers at press time, is still working to bring more distributors to the VOD roster before the tourney.
Subscribers will have access to such madness memories as the 30th anniversary of the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird final, Mario Chalmers' game-tying three-pointer in last year's title tilt and Christian Laettner's famed buzzer-beater in the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game.
CBS College Sports senior vice president of affiliate marketing and distribution Ellen Schned said the VOD package also encompasses tournament recap shows from 2008 and the upcoming Madness.
On the marketing front, CBS College Sports is partnering with over 100 colleges to promote the package on collegiate Web sites and via on-campus grassroots marketing. There will also be extensive promotion on the 30-million subscriber network, as well as CBS and sister properties CBSSports.com and Showtime, plus NCAA.com.
As for affiliates, Schned said CBS College Sports provides customized cross-channel spots, Web banners, ad slicks and barker channel touts. That says nothing about partners' own media buys against the initiative.
Looking ahead, Rose says CBS College Sports has engaged MSOs in conversations about 12-month VOD NCAA opportunities.