The field of 68 has been set -- First Four action tips tonight -- and NCAA March Madness Live is available to nearly 100 million pay video subscribers via TV Everywhere access throughout the event.
All 67 games of the 2015 tourney – Kentucky is seeking to become the first men’s basketball team to go undefeated since Indiana accomplished the feat during the 1975-76 season – plus a wealth of content, including archival and 2015 tournament highlights can be streamed over this year’s enhanced version of the NCAA March Madness Live app. Developed in partnership with Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA, the platform can be accessed from www.ncaa.com/marchmadness, www.CBSSports.com, www.bleacherreport.com, CBS Sports App, Bleacher Report’s Team Stream, the App Store, the Amazon App Store, Windows Store and Google Play.
Although the 22 contests airing on CBS, including the national championship game on April 6 from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, are accessible to all, the remaining contests, including the national semifinals on April 4, air on Turner Broadcasting-owned services TBS, TNT and truTV.
Subscribers can gain TV Everywhere access to the contests and content on computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices by verifying their video subscriptions.
Turner has one of the most robust TVE offerings among the nation’s programmers with deals covering 86 million homes. That total reaches the 99 million mark or thereabouts with the addition of Time Warner Cable subscribers, as Turner has once again reached an interim agreement with the nation’s second-largest MSO during the Madness of March (and early April).
“TV Everywhere continues to be one of the most important initiatives in our industry,” said Coleman Breland, president of Turner Network Sales, the domestic distribution, sales and marketing arm of Turner Broadcasting System. “Offering our content to viewers wherever and whenever is an incredible value to both the consumers and importantly, to our distribution partners.”
Heading into the 2014 tournament, Turner Broadcasting counted 160 distribution partners for TVE that reached some 85 million homes. Over the course of the past year, Turner’s TVE platform has rolled out on a number of smaller distributors, via its master agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative, and its TVE footprint now extends to 320 affiliates and over 86 million homes.
“It’s imperative that we not only continue to offer these on-demand services but that we create robust, companion viewing experiences like March Madness live which enhances the TV experience for consumers while providing added value to their existing TV subscription,” said Coleman.
With the expanded footprint and consumers’ increasingly familiarity with TVE, tentpole events like March Madness and the Olympics are key authentication drivers.
Like last year, users will once again have a three-hour preview per device before they must authenticate their subscriptions. Turner Broadcasting will regularly run messaging encouraging verification during those periods.
As such, Turner Broadcasting officials are optimistic that sign-up will grow and stoke NCAA March Madness Live usage.
Last year, NCAA March Madness Live generated a record 69.7 million live video streams, a 42% jump from the 2013 event, according to Conviva data. All told, there was a record 15 million hours of live video streaming, 7% more than the prior year. Much of the growth came via mobile – tablets and smartphones – as streams leaped 71% on these devices during the tourney NCAA tournament, with streaming hours surging 38%.
Those who logged on via TVE were much more engaged with the content. According to Turner officials citing Conviva data, TVE users streamed an average of 67% more minutes than those who weren’t logged in. Live streams on logged-in mobile devices accounted for 52% of TVE play during the 2014 tournament.
Overall, TVE usages for last year’s version of March Madness climbed 85% in live streams and 72% in hours spent viewing.
Those gains have once again led to NCAA March Madness Live selling out its inventory for the 2015 event. NCAA corporate champions AT&T, Capital One and Coke Zero are the co-presenting sponsors of the platform.
Moreover, Buick, Capital One and Coke Zero are sponsoring the app for iPhone and iPad, while AT&T, Capital One and Infiniti are backing the Android version. AT&T is also the presenting sponsor for the Windows app. Buick, Infiniti and LG Electronics are NCAA corporate partners.
“Our TV Everywhere strategy is designed to confront the challenges of an evolving media universe and have the ability to deliver branded video content that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and on any device by consumers,” said Coleman, “while also meeting the business needs of our advertising and distribution partners.”