If it's March, it's madness. Between now and the NCAA Men's Division I National Championship on April 6, fans will be served an all-you-can-eat, ad-supported buffet of college hoops online served up primarily by CBSSports.com and ESPN.com/ESPN360. The video philosophies couldn't be more different: the Disney (NYSE: DIS) broadband sports network is available exclusively through dozens of ISPs plus .edu and .mil but only through ESPN360.com, while CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) encourages one-click access to live streaming video through the MMOD video player. This year, sites using the NCAA March Madness on Demand Developer Platform have expanded to include USAToday.com, the CBS Interactive sites (TV.com, GameSpot and even CNET.com); last year, the 200-plus sites included ESPN, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), MySpace, Facebook and more.
Some details after the jump.
NCAA March Madness On Demand (MMOD): Partner sites can choose from five ways to access 63 live games from the first round through the finals, including linking to a specific game and linking to the player. The player launches March 10 with historical highlights. Standard video will be available through Windows Media and Flash an HD player powered by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Silverlight also is an option this year. Last year, the MMOD Player drew more than 4.7 million uniques, up 164 percent over 2007, and CBSSports.com delivered 4.9 million hours of live streaming audio and video, up 81 percent. This year's presenting sponsors are AT&T (NYSE: T), Coca-Cola, and Pontiac.
ESPN360.com: But before MMOD kicks into gear, ESPN gets to host Championship Week with 124 conference tournament games leading to 24 men's and women's conference championships. ESPN360 will simulcast every ESPN and ESPN2 men's and women's game starting March 5, as well as numerous out-of-market games from top conference tournaments. ESPN360 is also the online home of the Women's Final Four, and will show every Women's Tournament game live as well as some NIT games.
By Staci D. Kramer