Like last year, NCAA's 2012 March Madness will be streamed online. Unlike last year, it won't be free to watch the tournament.
Time Warner and CBS announced in February that non-cable subscribers can pay a one-time, $3.99 fee to stream games from the tournament, which tips off Tuesday. Though games on CBSSports.com will remain free, AdAge notes that too could change. As CBS seeks retransmission fees, cable operators could pressure the network to limit the amount of free content available online. The lack of live online sports broadcasts is one of the most-cited reasons why subscribers resist cutting the cord entirely.
Launched in 2003 under the moniker March Madness On Demand, the college basketball tournament’s live streams haven't always been free. In 2006, the service was offered gratis, with CBS relying on ads for revenue. When CBS and Time Warner partnered up to share the costs of games in 2010, it was only a matter of time until the tournament started charging non-subscribers. Though ultimately scrapped, a paywall was under consideration for 2011’s games.
Now renamed NCAA March Madness Live, NCAA.com, CBSSports.com and SI.com will offer high-quality live streams of all 67 games online and for mobile devices. This year marks the first time the games are available live for viewing on Android phones. March Madness Live includes video highlights, schedules, live tournament brackets, game alerts and even a boss button. When pressed, the button transitions computer screens from the game telecast into boss-friendly content that looks more suited for the workplace, such as email and spreadsheets.
CBS and Time Warner said there were 26.7 million visits across online and the mobile app in 2011. An average of 2.4 million daily unique visitors watched the games on broadband while 702,000 users followed the game on the mobile app in 2011.