March Madness Live Bolsters Streaming Quality Up to 60fps, Expands to 16 Platforms
The suite of digital products will also feature VR options and a whip-around show this weekend
Few sports events capture America’s attention – and more perfectly reflect our changing video consumption behaviors – than the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This year’s March Madness Live product continues to grow upon its previous successes, boosting the ceiling on its streaming quality to 60fps (supported by iStreamPlanet) while expanding availability to 16 unique platforms.
In its eighth year, March Madness Live again will provide live streams of all 67 games from the NCAA Tournament while providing (depending on the platform) additional scores, stats, data, and social integration.
The most notable content addition to this year’s product will only impact the first two days of the tournament but it has the potential to be a popular feature: a whip-around style channel called Fast Break. Hosted from a studio in Atlanta with unique talent, the show will hop around to various games and keep fans locked on the most exciting action going on at any given time.
It’s an interesting shift for a platform that has built itself upon handing all of the controls over to the user to pick what they want to watch. Now, Fast Break let’s the view say to the platform: “you tell me what I should see” back in the way that it used to be on CBS back before all games were available on four linear channels.
“It’s a balance in digital to have the interactivity there,” says Hania Poole, VP/GM, NCAA Digital, “but at the same time it’s all about delivering great content and that’s what we really hope this new channel will be.”
This year’s iteration also hopes to make a noted step forward in the world of notification and personalization. If users fill out their bracket using the Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge game, they can upload their bracket to March Madness Live and the platform will not only notify them when games they’ve picked are near completion but how an upset may impact their direct standings in their bracket pool.
This year, the digital sports industry has also seen a groundswell of support for Connected TV devices and the products designed for them. This is the third year where March Madness Live has been available in the Connected TV space and new this year is a continuous play feature. In previous years, when a game would end, the live stream would drop to a static slate. Now the platform will carry you on to another available game.
So what makes Connected TV apps a great way to experience a crowded event like March Madness? For Poole, it’s the ease of use.
“I think what the connected device experience does, honestly, is that the UI ends up being much more simple for switching between all of these events. That’s maybe the benefit that Connected TVs have over the traditional TV experience. So that’s what we design for. How do we get the fans into the video easily that they want.”
New this year for Apple TV users is the ability to watch three games simultaneously.
March Madness Live is available on 16 platforms this year, which is the most in the history of the product. Those platforms are: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Android handset, Android tablet, Amazon Echo family of devices, Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream, mobile web, Roku players, Roku TV models, web and Xbox One.