As linear TV coverage produced the best Nielsens for the first week of the tournament in 20 years, the digital presentation of NCAA March Madness Live dunked the equivalent of a backboard-shattering number of video streams and engagement metrics.
Managed by Turner Sports, NCAA March Madness Live through the tourney’s first week set new all-time marks by generating 36.6 million live video streams across online and mobile (tablets and smartphones), double the 18.3 million for the entire event in 2012, according to company officials. That equated to than 10 million hours of live video consumed across digital properties during the opening week of the NCAA Tournament, up 198% from 2012.
In partnership between the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports, NCAA March Madness Live is launched from www.ncaa.com/marchmadness, www.cbssports.com and www.bleacherreport.com, and is available via the App Store and Google Play.
Indeed, the NCAA March Madness Live app ranked as the top sports app in the App Store and Google Play during the first week of the tournament. It was also the No. 1 free app across all categories in the App Store during the opening weekend – March 23-24 -- of the tournament.
Last year, non-authenticated video subscribers to TBS, TNT and TruTV could pay $3.99 to watch the tourney digitally. That option was not available this time around as Turner's "TV Everywhere" universe now exceeds 80 million households. Users, though, are able to tap into a four-hour preview on NCAA March Madness Live before having to verify that they are video subscribers to the Turner trio.
Across broadband, 4.2 million unique visitors watched live video, an increase of 161% from 1.6 million in 2012, according to Adobe Site Catalyst. The mobile app, meanwhile, led to 2.6 million unique visitors watching live video, up 121% from 1.2 million in 2012, according to Conviva data.
Over the opening week of the tournament, 105 minutes of live video was consumed per user on broadband, while 61 minutes of video was viewed per user on mobile, respective increases of 12% and 42% versus 2012.
As expected and projected by Mark Johnson, vice president of business operations at Turner Sports before the tournament began, mobile usage grew on the weekend, as people left their offices and work computers behind. Whereas mobile live video consumption accounted for 43% of live video streams on Thursday March 21, that ratio grew to 48% on Friday, 59% on Saturday and 60% on Sunday. Moreover, live viewing minutes grew as the week progressed with mobile representing 23% of such on Thursday,25% on Friday, 30% on Saturday and 32% on Sunday.
Michigan State-Valparaiso on March 21 was the top digital games to date on the 2013 version of March Madness Live, producing 1.84 million video streams; followed by Butler-Bucknell with 1.78 million on the same day; Mississippi-Wisconsin with 1.77 million on March 22; Duke-Albany with 1.49 million last Friday; and Marquette-Davidson with 1.47 million on March 21.