March Madness Traffic Wanes

Web traffic to CBS' March Madness games spiked for the first day of the tournament, but then slowly declined over the next several days, according to new estimates by Nielsen//NetRatings.

The CBS SportsLine network of sites--CBS SportsLine.com, CSTV.com Networks, NCAASports.com, PGA Tour, and TennisDirect.com--drew more than 3.6 million visitors from home and work on Day 1 of the college basketball tournament, March 16. But traffic then started falling off--tapering to approximately 3.1 million on March 17, and 2.1 million on each of the next three days, and then plunging to 1.7 million on Tuesday, March 21 (the most recent date for which Nielsen//NetRatings' figures were available).

CBS SportsLine.com's traffic for the week ending March 19 jumped 219 percent at work, from 1 million unique visitors to 3.2 million. At home, traffic also nearly doubled, from 1.6 million to 3.1 million.

CBS has placed its free March Madness streams front and center of its Web strategy. Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital, last year compared the streams of the games to AOL's Webcast of 'Live 8,' a streamed music event last summer that found a mass broadband audience. "This is our Live 8," Kramer said of the free streaming basketball games, adding that the network expected "huge" viewership. Last year, CBS offered streams of the games, but at a fee of $19.99.

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