Op Quartet Backs CSTV ‘Madness’


College Sports Television has found some MSO teammates to promote its exclusive streaming-video package of the upcoming NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications Inc. and Insight Communications Co. Inc. will give promotional assists to CSTV’s “March Madness on Demand” Internet-subscription package, CSTV president Brian Bedol said.

For $19.95, broadband subscribers to the out-of-market package can view up to 56 games through the regional semifinal round.

In late January, CSTV inked a two-year deal, plus options, with the NCAA and CBS SportsLine.com (cbs.sportsline.com) for exclusive video-streaming rights for out-of-market game coverage of the “March Madness” tournament.

The package ran on Yahoo! Inc. (www.yahoo.com) and CBS SportsLine.com in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Backed by technology from The FeedRoom, Akamai Technologies Inc. and Entriq Corp., subscribers who click to CSTV.com (www.collegesports.com), CBSSportsLine.com or NCAASports.com (www.ncaasports.com) will be able to watch up to four games at a time on a PC screen, replay contests, hear and view press conferences and access various highlights or archival action.

Bedol said March Madness on Demand could help operators to drive high-speed-Internet packages and also receive an unspecified revenue cut from subscription buys.

“The way the Super Bowl is an event that helps the consumer-electronics industry to push the sales of new TVs, we think March Madness on Demand can help to drive consumers from dial-up to our cable affiliates’ broadband services or have existing subscribers enhance the speed of their connections,” he added.

Bedol said Comcast is a full marketing partner in CSTV’s streaming package. Subscribers to Comcast’s high-speed service receive access to full replays of classic games, such as legendary UCLA coach John Wooden’s final contest or North Carolina’s 1982 title-game triumph over Georgetown, keyed by a baseline jumper by then-freshman Michael Jordan.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, through the Road Runner service, are also offering video-on-demand access to certain classic clips.

Bedol said cable partners, as well as others like Sports Illustrated and Ticketmaster, will offer customers discounts ranging from “a couple of bucks to $5 off” the subscription, which can continued to be tapped through next year’s tourney.

CSTV has a promotion in place with American Express Co. CBS, the exclusive TV carrier of the tourney, will tout the package. It’s also being pushed through database marketing, radio buys and other outlets.

All told, Bedol estimated that March Madness on Demand will benefit from media valued at $5 million-$7 million.