March Madness: Draws 4.8 Million Uniques During First Three Days

The second round of the NCAA Div. I Mens’ Basketball tournament is on its final games and, aided by increased cross-platform marketing, has already broken last year’s streaming media totals for its March Madness on Demand video player. paidContent has obtained the numbers for the first three days:

4.8 million unique users through Saturday, the first day of the second round, up 65 percent over 3 million for the same time in 2008. (Last year’s numbers varied between reports; the four-day total was 3.3 million.) We reported Friday that MMOD had 2.7 million uniques the first day.

5.6 million hours of live streaming video and audio delivered, up 64 percent over 3.4 million for the same three days in 2008. That means it took two days to double the 2.8 million hours delivered on Thursday alone. doesn’t break out the video and audio numbers but says most of that represents video. So far, 49 percent of the video has been delivered through the “high-quality” Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Silverlight player.

2.3 million clicks of the boss button, which, in turn, brings up a Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) ad fashioned like a spreadsheet.

“We pulled out all of the stops from a marketing perspective,” Jason Kint, SVP and GM of, told me during the last batch of games Sunday afternoon. That included just about every possible marketing opportunity across CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) and other CBS properties, including a CBS Outdoors billboard in Times Square, widgets on the local radio and TV sites, interstitials on CNET, promotions on The Morning Show and 60 Minutes. Literally, an invaluable campaign that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Even if hits a projected 7 million for its MMOD player, Kint knows it’s still a small number compared to the 130 million watching on TV. But, he added, “growing anything 60 percent year over year isn’t easy. … Despite all the marketing, we have to get people’s behaviors to change.”

2008 numbers: For all of 2008, streamed 4,925,566 total hours of live video and audio to 4,759,306 total unique users. Most of those hours — 4,294,400 — were streamed though the end of the Sweet Sixteen. Last year was the first time all games were offered online through the Final Four and with no local blackouts; the first round included Good Friday, so wasn’t a typical viewing day. But it was also the first year without registration.

Some caveats: Unlike some events which might be expected to pick up steam as they progress, MMOD usually peaks during the first round with the highest viewing during office hours and decreases through a combination of evening/weekend TV access and the winnowing out of teams. It’s safe to say we’re not the only household using a mix this weekend to manage our viewing — we had to use the computer hooked to our living room TV Saturday to watch the end of the Memphis-Maryland game and to watch other as CBS kept switching the broadcast feed — but no reason to believe we’re part of a large number.

Mobile: No mobile numbers yet. We did have a little fun at dinner Saturday night, when we figured out that I could access live video using the mobile Skyfire browser on my *AT&T* HTC Tilt with 3G, when the $5 MMOD iPhone app was hobbled by the lack of WiFi.