I am sure college basketball fans are feeling deeply deprived this March by the dearth of TV and online games available to them for their favorite tourney. Not! Obviously. I am besieged this week with pitches from media companies trying to tie their property into March Madness one way or another. One company that really does have the goods to merit special attention is the NCAA itself. If all of that nighttime viewing and daytime streaming is still not enough to satisfy bracket fever, then you will have a nostalgic treat at the new NCAA Vault.
Launched this week via Thought Equity Motion's video management platform and Turner Sports (NCAA Digital owner), the Vault is more than just a pile of old game clips. In fact what even this sports-averse media maven appreciates about the collection is the way it is parses and serves granular pieces of the games. While the interface looks and feels like a rerun of a 1998 sports site, the technology and the indexing is pretty cool. You can access key games going back to 1976 (only one or two is those early years) or you can find the reels associated with favorite teams, classic contests and national championships.
You get the entire game from the site. But what is really cool is the nano-indexing. Each game is parsed by main highlights and even a play-by-play scroll that lets you find the exact play you want to see and advance to it by clicking the description. You can even filter plays by keywords. Beneath the play progress bar there are small blue nubs you can mouse over to reveal the relevant highlight and click to advance to that point in the game. The left nav bar lets you locate great shots, great plays and great finishes from across the games themselves. There is also a sharing function that creates a short URL to that exact moment in the video you want to share.
The NCAA Vault is also turning the classic clips into a bracket game where users vote in multiple bracket rounds for the greatest game in NCAA history. This feature links back to the Vault videos.We wish the plain and retro interface were as polished as the underlying technology. This site could use some Hulu-ification. Still, the NCAA Vault is a testament to the evolving state of leveraging metadata, search, and great playback performance to open up new ways of relating to video content.