CBS' full-court press drives 'em to Madness

Cross-property push equals big viewer gains

CBSSports.com is reporting a sizable spike in traffic for its ever-popular March Madness on Demand service.

For the first two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which ran Thursday-Sunday, the division claimed 5.6 million unique visitors to its MMOD player and 6.5 million hours of video and audio played. Those figures represent 60% and 71% jumps over last year, respectively.

CBS has made a number of tweaks to the program during its four years of existence, increasing the number of users who can access it, removing blackouts of locally televised games and adding new platforms like the iPhone.

CBSSports.com senior vp and GM Jason Kint primarily attributes the increase to a marketing plan that promoted the service throughout all CBS Interactive properties, which, for the first time this year, includes CNET.

"The game-changer this year was CBS Interactive marketing it in a way they never have before," he said.

Kint said Monday that the company will hit its pre-tournament projection of $30 million in dedicated online revenue for March Madness.

CBS' digital and traditional ratings are up this year — television ratings were up in the mid-single digits for the first three days of the tournament — but like any conglomerate, the company still must figure out how to balance digital growth with traditional viewership as it moves forward. (partialdiff)
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