March Madness Coming to a Web Site Near You

CBSSports.com announced today it has launched a developer platform that will allow more than 200 Web sites to provide live video of the 2008 men's basketball tournament online.

The site also announced that it has dropped the user registration requirements for its NCAA March Madness on Demand streaming video.

The new developer platform will allow sites like ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports, SI.com, YouTube and Facebook to link directly to the CBSSports.com live streaming video and provide its users with access to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, which begins March 18.

"By allowing major sports, video and social communities across the Internet a direct connection to our NCAA March Madness on Demand video we are giving millions of sports fans around the world access to the tournament when they want it and where they want it," said Jason Kint, senior vice president and general manager of CBSSports.com, in a statement. "This immediate, one-click access to the video player should greatly increase viewership, offering tremendous value to the over 30 advertisers associated with this product in 2008."

This year also marks the first time that CBSSports.com will let non-registered users of the site to view the live streaming video of the games. Like last year, CBSSports.com is offering fans the option to sign up for VIP status at mmod.ncaa.com for the streaming video. Non-VIP users will be sent to a general admission area where they will experience longer wait times to get into the video player if it is full, CBS said. More than half of 500,000 available VIP passes have already been taken.

March Madness on Facebook

In a related move last month, CBS announced the availability of a new Facebook application that allows users to fill out brackets for the 2008 men's basketball tournament and to compare their picks with those of friends on the social network.

This year is also the first time that users will be able to watch all 63 tournament games via the on demand streaming video. Since on-demand video of the tournament was first launched in 2003, CBS traditionally has shown 56 games from the first round through the regional semifinals with some local broadcast being subject to blackouts.

In 2007, 1.3 million unique visitors viewed more than 2.5 million hours of March Madness on Demand on the Web.

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