A clue that traffic for the online streaming of NCAA tourney games was significant this weekend came as the live feed frequently staggered. On Monday, Turner and CBS said that so far this year, there has been a 47% increase in total visits to the free "March Madness on Demand (MMOD)" offering of every game online.
The nearly 50% increase covers broadband and mobile access and accounts for 26.7 million visits. The most prominent MMOD advertiser is Capital One, but Coke and Subway are two others.
There has been an average of 2.4 million unique Web visitors and 702,000 unique users via a mobile app per day.
Somewhat remarkably, 36% of all MMOD streams on Saturday and Sunday came via an iPad or iPhone app. The iPad app is new this year.
The numbers do include four more games than a year ago, but that isn't the driving force behind the numbers. One reason could be increased consumer hunger for online video. Another is that a subset of the population without access to the games on cable may be turning to the Web.
There has also been increased promotion and more access points to the games, including via SI.com (run by Turner) -- and surprisingly, via ESPN.com, which has been offering a link to the online option.
Of course, there may be a greater interest in the tournament. On TV, the games have been carried across Turner outlets TNT, TBS and TruTv, as well as CBS, and have averaged 8.4 million total viewers -- up 14% from CBS' 7.4 million last year. The four-network setup, which is new this year, allows viewers to watch any game they want in its entirety if they have the channel.
On Sunday, viewership was up, but games went for about 12 hours and through prime time. That differs from past years, where the CBS window was shorter. There was a fast national household rating of 6.6, up 16% from CBS on the same day last year.
That is the highest household rating for the first tournament Sunday since 2000. Total viewers came in with an average of 10.5 million, plus 18% from a year ago.