CBS to offer HD March Madness streams

To be available free on

CBS Sports Feb. 17 said it would for the first time offer ad-supported on-demand streams in high-definition of the 2009 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship ("March Madness"), from March 19 to April 6.

The streams, which will be available for free on, are viewable on Microsoft's Silverlight player that now delivers video upwards of 1.5 megabytes per second, compared to 550 kilobytes per second last year.

The player launches March 10.

In 2008, there was 164% year-over-year growth in total unique visitors to March Madness On Demand (4.8 million total unique visitors to the NCAA March Madness On Demand video player) and 81% year-over-year growth in total hours of live video and audio consumed (5 million total hours of video consumed).

CBS offered streams of March Madness On Demand from 2003 to 2005 as a $15 subscription service that attracted 20,000 users. In 2006, MMOD was offered as a free ad-supported service that garnered 1.3 million users and $4 million in revenues. Ad-revenue increased to $10 million in 2007 and $23 million in 2008, the first year users were not required to register to download the video player.

Through 2007, MMOD streamed 56 games of the tournament, and all 63 games last year.

"This enhanced video offering will make the viewer experience that much more robust and serve as a perfect complement to the coverage on CBS Sports," said Sean McManus, president, CBS Sports and CBS News.