CBS Sports’ (s CBS) online coverage of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is shattering records for 2010 — and the fun has just begun. After just four days of the tournament, the March Madness on Demand (MMOD) online video service has delivered more than 8.7 million hours of live streaming video and audio consumed — up 35 percent over the previous year’s tournament. MMOD also reported that more than 6 million unique visitors watched video during the opening rounds of the tournament.
The most watched hour of the tournament on both Thursday and Friday of last week began at 2:00 p.m. ET, with viewers tuning in for 910,258 combined hours of video and audio during those two days. The most-watched game online through the first two days was the double-overtime matchup between Floria and BYU, which accounted for more than 521,000 hours of video and audio streamed. Robert Morris vs. Villanova (462,000 hours) and Siena vs. Purdue (403,000 hours) ranked second and third respectively.
There are still two weeks of March Madness coverage left, kicking off again this weekend with the Sweet 16 round of the tournament running on March 25 and 26 and the Elite Eight matchups on March 27 and 28. The Final Four matchups will be played on April 3, with the National Championship game ending the tournament on April 5.
Typically, however, those rounds don’t garner as much interest online as the games during the first two rounds of the tournament, many of which are played during the day, when college basketball fans are at work. As Jason Kint, senior VP and general manager of CBS Sports, told us in a phone interview, viewership is highest online at times when users can’t watch the games on TV: When the games start being played in prime time, viewers typically switch from viewing online at work to viewing from the comfort of their living rooms. There were also a number of upsets during the opening rounds, which could also lead many fans to lose interest in the later rounds of the tourney.
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