CBS today emailed us its final tallies for its March Madness on Demand (MMOD) video player, saying it saw 4.8 million unique visitors over the course of the playoffs, for a 164 percent increase over 1.8 million uniques in 2007.
Total hours of men’s college basketball consumed live online throughout the tournament also increased, but not quite as much: 4.9 billion total hours, up 81 percent from 2.7 billion hours in 2007.
It’s clear that there’s demand for March Madness both online and off, but unclear how making all the games available via both mediums affects demand for each. The entire MMOD offering is free, and we haven’t heard anything from CBS about the profitability of the project. Update: A CBS spokesperson said the company estimates revenues of $23 million in revenue from MMOD in 2008 (raised from an earlier prediction of $21 million).
Meanwhile, television ratings were down 8 percent throughout the tournament, until they recovered for the finals. The overtime thriller between Memphis and Kansas had 41.7 million viewers, up 3.5 percent from last year.
CBS has maintained that MMOD did not effect TV ratings because the online version is most popular during business hours, when many people can’t access a TV.
CBS benefited from its removal of local blackouts on MMOD for early games of the tournament (in previous years it had avoided competing with itself and its local affiliates), though the growth rates make it clear the final rounds were a bigger draw. Through the conclusion of the Sweet 16, MMOD saw 4 million unique visitors, up 135 percent from 1.7 million in 2007; and 4.3 billion total hours consumed, up 58 percent from 2.7 billion in 2007.
The network also said it had more than 570,000 registered VIP users (who sign up early to save their place at the front of the line), up 22 percent from last year, as well as 2.5 million clicks on the “Boss Button” (which shuts off MMOD’s volume and brings up a spreadsheet). Nearly 3.7 million people participated in official CBS brackets, many of them on Facebook, bringing that figure up 65 percent from 2007.