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MARCH MADNESS HITS THE WEB AS RECORD NUMBERS ARE EXPECTED
Published March 11, 1998
Following record site traffic levels set during the Winter Games, the next three weeks of NCAA basketball "promise to eclipse all previous totals on the Net, including the Super Bowl and World Series," according to BRANDWEEK's Steve Ditlea. Total Sports is the producer and partner of the official NCAA Web site, www.Finalfour.net, and company President George Schlukbier called the NCAA tournament "the strongest affinity-based national sports event." In '97, Total Sports generated "nearly 10 million page views and 2.5 million ad impressions" from its Final Four site. This year, it "expects to triple the traffic with cybercasts of 63 men's games and 15 women's games in streaming audio and still pictures" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue). TARGET DEMO: BRANDWEEK's Ditlea writes that "widespread office pools" and regional-only TV coverage in the tournament's early stages "makes the Web the medium of choice for the largely male, college-educated demographic attracted by this event (and the advertisers who seek them)." The "busiest" times will be on Thursday and Friday for first-round games. ESPN Assistant Managing Editor Jim Jenks called the "biggest usage time" from noon to 1:00pm ET, on weekdays, as Ditlea notes that "fans apparently feel little guilt in using workplace computers to access sports sites during lunch time" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue). HIGHER LEARNING: The FANSonly Network said its '97 royalty payments to its member university ADs totalled more than $200,000. FANSonly also announced that Georgetown, Alabama, Ole Miss, UCLA and Washington are the newest members of the its group of college Web sites (FANSonly). ESPN'S CHALLENGE: ESPN SportsZone had 177,000 entrants in its tournament prediction contest last year, as well as "thousands more who used it for information and statistics." This year, the site "expects more entries," and has "made preparations to deal with the traffic." Its home page has "fewer graphics and other data this week so it will load faster for visitors" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/11). LISTEN UP: AudioNet, www.audionet, will have live play- by-play action of men's and women's NCAA tournament games, sponsored by Microsoft Corp. and CBS SportsLine (AudioNet).