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Innovation Madness: CBS Brings Entire NCAA Tournament to the Web

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 8:21 AM EST     1622 Views
Author: Brian Reinhardt
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For office workers everywhere, no time of year is more heartbreaking than March Madness. Sure, sitting through work is dubious on a daily basis, but sitting through work while exciting college basketball games are being played left and right, all day long is a whole new form of torture. Fortunately, for the many sports fans out there in suits, CBS is streaming live video of every single March Madness game on the Web for the first time ever.

This innovative move by CBS allows anyone anywhere with Internet access to watch any game (all 63) of the entire NCAA basketball tournament (from Round 1 to the finals) for free. This momentous move not only brings smiles to the faces of basketball fans stuck behind desks and in cubicles, but it also signals how far the Web has comes as an entertainment resource. With streaming video already rising in popularity, CBS’s March Madness coverage may help solidify the Web as the most valuable place to go for content – whether print, audio or video. In this case, users can watch the games they want without having to rely on the judgment of networks that often wait too long to switch over to the best contests. Through the Web, users get everything they want as they want it at their fingertips.

For all the panting hoops fans, here how it works: visit CBS SportsLine and, on game day, you will be given the option of watching any of the games being played at a given time. Though users are not required to have a CBS SportsLine account to watch games, signing up now could come in handy. When a person tries to watch a game, if too many people are already watching, he or she will have to go to what is essentially a “waiting room”. Basically, when one person stops watching the game, another person from the waiting room can start. But, by registering early, sports fans can get VIP access, allowing them to jump right in and watch Georgia play Xavier at 12:20 with no wait. To get a VIP spot (the number available are limited), users must create a CBSSports Log-in ID.

Of course, CBS’s online advancements aren’t going over so well with everyone. For employers, March Madness is generally a time of dread – and CBS’s increased Web content hasn’t made life any easier. Experts estimate that time spent following tournament games rather than working adds up to hundreds of millions in lost business dollars across the board. And with streaming video (which takes up a lot of bandwidth), networks can easily become clogged and slowed to a near standstill. Many companies are even taking the pre-emptive approach of blocking Web sites like CBS SportsLine and ESPN.com.

Despite protests from businesses, CBS has to be commended for using the March Madness stage to push technology forward in the new medium. And, while productivity may sink at many companies, it certainly does every other year too. Even without live Web streams, people still have radios, TVs and phones, which distract just as much (if not more) than the Internet. So, allowing employess to watch Pitt spar with Oral Roberts online for a couple minutes may actually be small price to pay. With the Internet here to stay, businesses just might have to get used to paying it.

Note: For those who can’t watch video, CBS will also be streaming live audio of every game.

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