This week kicks off the most exciting time of the year, for college basketball fans, with the 2017 NCAA men’s Division 1 tournament set to swing into action. As in previous years, new options to watch games, including the ability tune into more games, are part of broadcaster’s efforts to step up with innovative ways to satisfy viewers. However it challenges video infrastructures.
Following in the path of last year’s tournament coverage, the popular March Madness app delivers fan friendly features, including streaming every game for free. CBS and Turner will provide live streaming access across a record 15 different platforms, including Fire, Roku, Xbox, Apple TV, and Amazon’s Alexa. For a complete guide to game streaming options, read this c|net article. Access to sports and other live events is a significant concern for Millennial males, with 20 percent saying they would not cut the cord until more live content becomes available online, compared to just eight percent of the population as a whole. An important addition to online viewing options for sports is ESPN’s streaming support. On the broadcast TV side – TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV provide exclusive live, national coverage of all 67 NCAA Tournament games across the 4 networks. All these options mean viewers can watch more games than any previous March Madness. Instead of one game every four hours, you can even catch the games of smaller less known college teams on one of the many streaming options.
Alexa, what’s the score of the UConn game?
Amazon Alexa will answer questions related to scores and games. Alexa users also have the option of listening to the radio broadcasts of the games on the device. Westwood One, the largest American radio network, holds radio play-by-play rights for the men’s NCAA tournament, and will broadcast all 67 games on more than 500 affiliated stations, SiriusXM satellite, streaming online, and on mobile platforms.
All of these coverage options across media platforms follow a pattern established in the earliest days of radio, that sports broadcasting is traditionally at the forefront of media technology advancement, with high profile sports events being the first programming to use new capabilities. With March Madness, we’re seeing coverage expansion to more streaming channels than ever before, including use of the Alexa voice assist device. As 2017 rolls out, expect to see other new media formats used to give sports audiences a “just like being there” experience. Content delivery networks (CDNs) are poised and ready to deliver the video and audio streaming, so bring it on. Let the games begin.