NCAA Opens Its March Madness Video Vault Online

With March Madness right around the corner, the NCAA is opening up its college basketball video archives and putting them online, allowing fans to check out pivotal plays and moments from the last 10 years of the Men’s College Basketball Tournament. The NCAA Vault, which launches today, comes with an assist from Thought Equity Motion, which built the player and loaded the service with metadata that will enable fans to search and share their favorite clips.

The NCAA Vault opens with 150 games from 2000-2010, highlighting matches from the Sweet Sixteen round of the tournament to the Finals for each of those seasons. And while the amount of video that the NCAA is making available is certainly impressive, that way that it ties metadata back into that video is even more so. By connecting the videos with all the pertinent players, teams, coaches and play-by-play data, the Vault has an extremely robust search-and-discovery mechanism for fans to hunt down clips of their favorite plays or players.

And the video site goes beyond just finding plays, allowing fans to share those moments with friends by posting to their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or enabling them to copy a URL that they can send via email or link to on their own web pages. Those URLs will point viewers to the exact moment that a play happened in the middle of the game video, allowing viewers to then watch the remainder of the matchup or skip around looking for their own favorite moments. In other words, rather than editing and pre-packaging clips that it thinks viewers will be interested in, the NCAA has enabled them to create their own playlists.

Unlike most other video sites, the NCAA Vault doesn’t allow player embedding, an effort to get users engaged on the site itself instead. And based on the way that the Vault is built — with no real distinction between watching an entire game or just browsing through clips — such an approach makes sense. It’s also led to pretty long dwell times for users in its public beta test, with viewers hanging around the site for nine minutes or more per session, on average. That compares to about two minutes per user spent on watching clips.

The NCAA plans to monetize the video assets on the site with ads and sponsorships that could run either in-stream or alongside the video content. Those ads will be sold through a revenue-share agreement with CBS Sports (s CBS), which has the rights to broadcast all the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games and also runs the March Madness On Demand online video service.

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