March Madness Live Hits Record 36.6 Million Video Streams During First Week
March Madness Live recorded strong early returns during the first week of the NCAA Tournament, according to data from Turner Sports. MML generated 36.6 million live video streams during the initial rounds, twice last year's comparable total, and 10 million hours of live video streaming, up 198% from '12. The broadband version of MML has seen 4.2 million unique visitors, up 161%, and the mobile version has reached 2.6 million unique visitors, up 121%. The bullish initial numbers for the digital deployment of the tournament mirror improved TV ratings, showing the broad appeal of what has been widely deemed to be a wide-open competition. Turner Sports this year changed the model for MML, removing the fee-based option and basing the distribution on a user-authentication-based structure backstopped by a free four-hour preview. The most popular individual game on MML to date was the Michigan State-Valparaiso contest, which generated 1.84 million video streams. The game's 12:15pm ET tip time marked the beginning of play last Thursday, generally considered the full start of the tournament (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted the MML app "ranked as the top sports app in the App Store and Google Play during the first week of the tournament." It also was the "No. 1 free app across all categories in the App Store during the opening weekend -- March 23-24 -- of the tournament." Mobile usage "grew on the weekend, as people left their offices and work computers behind." Whereas mobile live video consumption "accounted for 43% of live video streams on Thursday March 21, that ratio grew to 48% on Friday, 59% on Saturday and 60% on Sunday." Moreover, live viewing minutes "grew as the week progressed with mobile representing 23% of such on Thursday, 25% on Friday, 30% on Saturday and 32% on Sunday" (MULTICHANNELNEWS.com, 3/26).
GROUND CHUCK? ESPN’s Matt Doherty Monday took a thinly-veiled shot at Charles Barkley's analyst work during the NCAA Tournament. Without ever mentioning Barkley by name, Doherty said, “In my expert opinion, I’d like to see the network broadcasting the NCAA Tournament put on regular-season college analysts to cover the games. I think it disrespects the event, it disrespects the players. I think it’s a ‘turrible’ decision that they made” (“The Experts,” ESPNU, 3/25). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Yoder noted it is “not every day you see a basketball analyst call out another from a rival network so openly, especially someone who works for ESPN.” But it is a “legitimate example of growing resistance within college basketball to Barkley's NCAA analysis.” There are “many folks around college basketball who would wholeheartedly agree with Doherty's assessment.” Some of the things Barkley has said in this year's tournament “have been particularly puzzling” (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/26).