We knew the numbers from March Madness on Demand were going to be good, but we didn’t know they were going to be THIS good. According to CBS Sports, 11.7 million hours of live streaming video and audio were consumed online during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a 36 percent growth over last year’s numbers.
In addition, 8.3 million unique visitors used the March Madness on Demand video player, and 575,000 viewers watched last night’s final showdown between Duke and Butler online, a 70 percent growth over last year’s final game between North Carolina and Michigan State. In comparison, the game’s TV broadcast ratings jumped only 34 percent from last year to this year (receiving a 16 share as opposed to last year’s 11.9).
We’ve said it before, but it’s important to say again: Unlike other events such as the Grammys, March Madness’s online coverage isn’t meant to drive viewership to broadcast events, but instead treats the web as an equal part of the experience.
And its coverage was free and available to all those willing to sit through a word from its sponsors, as opposed to NBC’s choice to require proof of a cable subscription to watch the Olympics online. I may not be a huge basketball fan. But I am a fan of that.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): The State of Social TV