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Sports Roundup: HD Freebie; NHL Day Pass; SI Kids Fantasy Sports

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
A week ago today, college basketball fans tuned into the NCAA March Madness on Demand video players by the hundreds of thousands for the opening day of the annual tourney courtesy of The Sweet Sixteen tips off tonightlikely with considerably less online video demand because of the later timing and the drop off by fans of ousted teamsbut there are other sports online. Really.

Spring training for new MLB HD player: MLB.TV is testing its new HD player with DVR capabilities with a free public beta showing of today's outing between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies (A link to the game from this page will go live around 1 p.m. Eastern). The free public beta isn't a final product. A season subscription runs $110; monthly is $20.

NHL offers GameCenter Live Day Pass: Or, if you're an avid hockey fan with a team in the hunt for one of the final play-off spots, you can pay $20 for an NHL GameCenter Live Day Pass. The one-day on-demand offer is available throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. Then again, if you're really avid you already have a season subscriptionthe NHL says subscriptions for the video product are up nearly 250 percent over last yearor you'll find it a better bargain to spend $79 for the "Race for the Cup" package that offers all "available" games through the playoffs. Available being a relative term; unlike the "no blackout" promise from MLB, NHL's package is subject to blackouts and other restrictions.

SI Kids-Strat-O-Matic team up for fantasy sports: Just guessing that I have a few relatives who will give this a try ... SI Kids and Strat-O-Matic will produce a dozen fantasy sports games designed for kids ages 8-15 and available free at Fantasy baseball is live now with two more baseball games due this fall (baseball legends game and an avatar mascots game); others will roll out through 2010, with three games each for basketball, hockey, and football. Players will be able to watch animated highlights of their fantasy team. SI estimates that more than two million kids already participate in fantasy sports; if this draws even a tiny fraction of that number, it should be a boost for the site and possibly for its print editionsespecially since it requires registration.

By Staci D. Kramer