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The Madness of CBS: free online college hoops games

December 6, 2005

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – CBS Sports will offer
out-of-market basketball games for free online during NCAA
March Madness.

It’s the fourth year that CBS Sports has offered the mostly
regional games, ones that wouldn’t appear across the whole
network, beginning March 16. There will be as many as 56 NCAA
men’s tournament games available on the Web, beginning with the
first games and continuing through the regional semi-finals.
For the first three years, including last year with
http://www.CSTV.com, it was a premium service.

But this year, CBS has shifted NCAA March Madness on Demand
to an ad-supported service in an effort to gain more viewers.
It’s also in line with CBS’ online strategy in news and
elsewhere.

“We felt it was time to continue the evolution to an
ad-supported free model that will be the biggest growth down
the road,” CBS Sports senior vp programming Michael Aresco
said.

In addition to the games, there will be streaming video
available of news conferences before and after the games, as
well as interviews with players and coaches. Games in the Web
viewer’s local markets will be blacked out, much as the NCAA
tournament coverage on a DirecTV subscription package.

“What we’re looking to do is create as many platforms for
our content as possible as long as we don’t see any significant
erosion to CBS Sports,” Aresco said.

CBS Digital Media chief Larry Kramer said that the
announcement was indicative of what’s happening in the media
industry and the maturing of broadband.

“It’s a major step for us. This is our Live 8, this is a
mass-market moment for the Internet and for us,” Kramer said.
Web sites involved include NCAAsports.com, which is the NCAA
official site that is produced by CBS SportsLine.com. There
also will be tie-ins with CSTV and its online properties.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Source: reuters



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