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Live Sports on the Internet

March 27, 2007

Right now we are in the middle of what many people call the two weeks for sports, its the middle of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament, Major League Baseball Opening Day is less than a week away and then next weekend is the Masters. I thought it would be interesting to compare how all three of these view the Internet as a way of watching these events live.

All three stream live video of the events, its just that the three sports offer slightly different coverage. Lets start with what I consider the best of the three, NCAASports March Madness on Demand. As many of you are aware and probably many have utilized, March Madness on Demand, is a completely free service that lets you watch any of the games in the first three rounds of the tournament from your computer. The only limitation the local blackout of the game that is being shown on CBS at the time. CBS Sportsline sums it up best “We look at the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship as an opportunity to celebrate achievement and passion all across the country.”

Then there is the Masters. The Masters sees the Internet as an option to show additional coverage, as well as coverage that is the most interesting to viewers. The Masters internet bonus coverage starts an hour before the TV coverage does. There is also additional coverage of Amen Corner throughout the day starting at about 10:30am Thursday and Friday and about 12:30pm on the weekend. “Providing this additional coverage further demonstrates the importance we place on the internet,” said Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. “The internet complements our broadcast and it fulfills one of our principal objectives of exposing as many people as possible to this great sport of golf. On-line coverage of the Masters has great potential to reach an even larger audience.” There is definite truth to this statement as 3 million people streamed video last year of the tournament.

Major League Baseball, through its MLB.TV, is the only sports league that streams its games live over the internet. As with the NCAA Tournament, local Blackout rules apply as are playoff games not visible. MLB.TV is $89.95 for the season and its possible to upgrade to premium for $119.95.

So when are the other sports leagues going to step up and offer their games streaming on the internet. Additionally, the advertising that I see I believe is the same as what would be on the normal local broadcast, how long before we see advertisers placing media buys specific to online streaming sports. Its the ideal market from some companies. as most of these viewers are males, 25-45 years old with broadband or better access and more than likely watching from their office or cubicle during the work day.