Turner Takes the Ball Online

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Turner Sports expects basketball
fans to double dribble throughout the month of
March and use both linear and broadband offerings
to follow the NCAA men’s college basketball

Turner, which for the first time is handling newmedia
distribution of the three-week tournament
as well as partial carriage of tournament games on
TNT, TBS and TruTV as part of a new 14-year deal
with the NCAA, said it expects to match or surpass
last year’s record-breaking 11.7 million hours of
streamed March Madness content.

Turner also projected strong TV viewership
ratings for the tournament: For the first time, every
game of the 68-team single elimination tournament
will be shown on national television.

“We are of the strong opinion that everything on this
side digitally is additive to television,” Lenny Daniels, executive
vice president and COO for Turner Sports, told
Multichannel News during a presentation last Thursday
of Turner Interactive’s multi-platform March Madness On
Demand (MMOD) service. “When you do more stuff online,
it engages people to watch television.”


Turner Sports will tip off its on-demand coverage of the
NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament March 15 with free
live streaming of every tournament game online as well as
via broadband, iPhone, iPod and iPad platforms, according
to network officials.

The MMOD service will also offer improved live viewing,
including better picture quality and larger-format
streams, as well as personalized offerings including live
bracket updates, Daniels said.

As part of the new enhancements to the package, Turner
will offer a “My Channels” feature that will make it
easier for users to find games on the various channels.
Consumers can enter their ZIP code to find out where of
the TBS, TNT and TruTv are situated on their local cable

Fans watching the games on TV can access a “Game
Center View” offering on their iPads or computers that
provides up-to-the minute stats for every team as well as
a range of game stats, including box score, team leaders,
scoring streaks, biggest lead and team fouls.

The March Madness MMOD offering will also feature
a social-media component in which live social hosts will
capture news, trends and the sentiment of fans throughout
the tournament. Fans can also interact via Facebook
and NCAA.com to comment on games, engage with the
social hosts and rate highlights.

While broadband coverage will most likely be highest
during the first two full days of the tournament, Daniels
believes that the weekends will see a lot of iPad usage as
people tune into the games while doing other activities
outside the home.


Turner Sports president David Levy said the success of
the tournament’s ratings performance will be judged on
a cumulative network basis rather than on an individual
network basis. He added that the broadcast and cable
telecasts of every March Madness game in its entirety
will not cannibalize the potential audience accessing the
MMOD content.

“We think people will use it in a two-screen environment:
they’ll watch it on TV on their 70-inch flat screen
TV, but they’ll also be going online.”