SBJ/March 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

SportsLine’s advice: Take a number

CBS SportsLine is expecting demand for its free streaming video of the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament to be over capacity, prompting the Web site to create a “waiting room” and special advance registration system.

Demand for NCAA tournament video is expected
to top the system’s capacity.
The “March Madness On Demand” product, which carried a fee in years past but will now be free, can serve about 200,000 video streams at a time, a CBS SportsLine spokesman said.

More users than that are expected on the opening day of the tournament, March 16, when four games are available at once (with three available online and the locally televised game blacked out). That will make the tournament the largest interactive media event in history, eclipsing the 175,000 simultaneous streams AOL delivered during last summer’s Live 8 concerts.

To prepare for the possible overload, CBS has asked users to sign up in advance for a special “VIP” registration starting Feb. 16. Those users will get priority over anyone who signs up for “general admission” once the tournament begins.

If the user load hits capacity, people will be directed to a virtual waiting room where they’ll be told exactly how many people are ahead of them in line.

CBS SportsLine would not release registration totals to date but said that from week one to week two there was triple-digit growth, adding that the numbers are meeting the internal projections.

Last year, about 25,000 people paid $19.95 for a subscription to streaming video of the tournament, which was handled by CSTV’s online division.

When CBS acquired CSTV, it made the decision to make the games available for free on CBS SportsLine out of the belief that advertising revenue would outstrip subscription dollars. No financial figures have been released, but 19 advertisers have signed on, including presenting sponsors Dell and Courtyard by Marriott as well as State Farm, Lowe’s and Pontiac. Their ads will be shown in place of the ones shown on the CBS broadcasts.

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