CBS, Turner Sprucing Up "Teamcasts," March Madness Live App For Men's Tourney
Turner Sports today said at its March Madness media day in N.Y. that, in conjunction with CBS Sports, it will bulk up the promotion and production elements around its "Teamcast" team-specific telecasts of the national semifinal games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Introduced last year, the "Teamcast" broadcasts offered alternate feeds of the games from the perspectives of each participating Final Four team. Two of the games on April 4 will be on TNT, with two more on truTV. Turner Broadcasting President David Levy said, "We were really pleased with the product out of the gate last year, but we think there's still a lot of opportunity still ahead with this. So you'll see a different graphic treatment around it this year, more marketing around it, more use of social media and so forth."
THE MAIN EVENT: The national championship game on CBS on April 6 will again begin with an extended pre-game show at 8:30pm ET, followed by a tip time of around 9:10pm. The earlier start time was introduced last year after many years of starting around 9:30pm, which was one of the latest start times of any major U.S. sports event. CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said, "We liked the schedule last year, and the rating was good. We think this is a good setup."
AN APP FOR THAT: Turner Sports predicted further audience growth for March Madness Live, the digital deployment of the tourney. There were a record 69.7 million live video streams and more than 15 million hours of consumed live video in '14. Turner Sports VP/Business Operations Mark Johnson said, "We're definitely expecting to grow again, certainly given the upwards trends we continue to see around mobile device penetration." A redesigned online and mobile experience this year will include a teams section to allow fans to follow their favorite programs in the tournament, a new area for top plays, press conferences and other content, as well as a new "NCAA Tournament Run" game sponsored by Capital One. The game offers fans a way to stay competitive after a busted bracket by answering questions about each tournament matchup.
SOCIAL STUDY: Turner also has taken the Coke Zero-sponsored social media integration around March Madness Live fully in-house after working for several years with Ball State's SportsLink program. Turner Sports is working for a fourth consecutive year with S.F.-based digital video publishing outfit SnappyTV to aid with social sharing of tourney clips. The Buick-sponsored "Boss Button" will again come with three different user options: a dummy PowerPoint presentation tailored for office users, a false Evernote page for students, and a fictional search-engine page for home users. Like the "Teamcasts," Turner Sports intends to make a heavier social media push this year around "Boss Button." Johnson said, "I think some people got a bit confused by the various choices around Boss Button last year, so we've made a concerted effort to clean up the navigation around that this time."