March Madness, baby! If you didn’t already have a good reason to drive down to Costco (s COST) and pick up a huge new TV, this is it. Of course, that shiny new flatscreen won’t help you much for those games airing during office hours, but there is hope. The good thing about the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament is that all games will be available online and on your phone in real time.
And no, you won’t have to jump through any annoying registration hoops like with the Olympics. In fact, there are so many options to to join in on the fun that we decided to compile a handy little guide for all your March Madness needs.
Here’s how you can follow the games live:
The NCAA’s March Madness on Demand site is the place to go for live streams of all the games, starting with Selection Sunday on March 14th all the way to the National Championship game on April 4th. Missed a game? No worries, the site will also provide game highlights and full game archives. Make sure you have Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Silverlight installed if you want to use the site’s high-quality video player, with up to 1.8 Mbps.
The player offers features like picture-in-picture highlights of the current game’s best moments, as well as a boss button. (Now you just gotta find a way to quickly hide those pizza boxes in your desk drawer when your CEO walks by your cubicle.) The high quality player also utilizes IIS Smooth Streaming, meaning it will automatically adjust the bandwidth usage to accommodate your Internet connection and computer speed. No Silverlight on your PC? Don’t worry, the NCAA still has a standard-def video player that will play in pretty much any web browser, thanks to Flash.
March Madness on Demand streams will also be available on CNN.com (s TWX), ESPN.com (s DIS), Facebook, TV.com, CBS.com (s CBS), CNET.com, GameSpot.com and other sites around the web.
The March Madness on Demand iPhone application gives iPhone (s AAPL) and iPod Touch users a chance to tune into the games on the go. The application offers access to live video via 3G, EDGE and Wi-Fi for $9.99. There’s also a scoreboard, and users can schedule score alerts to keep up to date with the games. Don’t want to shell out 10 bucks? There’s also a free application available. It doesn’t have any live video, but video highlights and news updates.
FLO TV will provide live video of all 63 games to AT&T customers with compatible handsets as well as owners of the FLO TV Personal Television, through the CBS Mobile channel.
Here are some other good online video resources to check out:
The NCAA Vault features full-length videos of the best games the Men’s College Basketball Tournament has seen in the last ten years. The site offers access to 150 games as well as some nifty social features.
Hulu won’t carry March Madness live games, but the site has come up with its own unique flavor of vaguely related madness, offering a Best In Show bracket that lets Glee compete against Community and Mercy against House. Who said March Madness wasn’t something for everyone?
We’ll add more links with related video content while the competition is underway, so make sure to check back occasionally.