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Volume 24 No. 160
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Turner Sports Looks For March Madness Live To Grow Following '12 Drop

Turner Sports is “predicting a bigger audience this year for March Madness Live, despite last year’s traffic dip,” and a further embrace this year of “user authentication to watch games on digital platforms,” according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. MML last year drew 51.6 million "total broadband and mobile visits," down 6% from ’11. That included a "fallback option of paying $3.99 to watch the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games.” MML this year “does not include the fee option, and users who do not authenticate themselves will have the option of a four-hour free preview, time which can be spread over the tournament.” Turner Sports Senior VP & GM of Operations Matt Hong said, “We definitely think we will be at or above last year’s numbers. We think there’s now a far greater maturity in the market with regard to user authentication and TV Everywhere.” Turner Sports also is “banking on a traffic boost from Bleacher Report, which it acquired last summer” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/18 issue).

: MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ Mike Reynolds cites Turner officials as saying that its TV Everywhere “universe now exceeds 80 million households, up from 75 million at this time” in ’12. That total “does not include Time Warner Cable video subscribers.” Turner, which has been “unable to reach a long-term TV Everywhere deal with TWC, has inked an ‘interim solution’” that will enable the MSO’s subs "to stream games -- but no other programming -- during the tourney.” Turner Sports VP/Business Operations Mark Johnson said that the “digital play this year includes smartphones and tablets running on the Android 4.0+ operating system, as well as Apple’s iPhone5 and iPad mini.” Johnson added that “thanks to NBCUniversal’s expansive multi-platform coverage” of the ’12 London Games and entertainment websites, consumers are “now attuned to authentication.” MML is “sold out” of ads and is “expected to generate” $70M, up from $60M in ’12 (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 3/18 issue).

ONE SHINING MOMENT: In N.Y., Greg Bishop writes the live shots of teams selected for the NCAA Tournament during CBS' Selection Show "can rank among the most emotional and valuable, especially for the smaller universities." The shots are the "equivalent of a free commercial, a way to sell an emerging program." CBS decides "which teams to highlight," and the net "prefers a mixture: bubble teams and teams that are locks to make the bracket, but also unknown programs and traditional powers." Execs "debate which universities to feature for the better part of a month." CBS Sports Exec Producer & VP/Production Harold Bryant: "We're trying to capture that instant emotion" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19).