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March Madness Invades Office Life

  |  March 21, 2006   |  Comments

Internet users, many at work, crowd in on NCAA sites for March Madness content and streams.

Office workers taking part in March Madness pools at the office do more than just look up scores during the workday; many watch the game at the office. Data released by Nielsen//NetRatings and comScore Networks detail the number of visitors to sites that are streaming games over the Web.

The NCAA Men's College Basketball season is in the final stretch with March Madness, and the Web is the content destination, including scores, stats, updates, and live streams of games. This year, CBS SportsLine.com's NCAAsports.com offers live streams of the games, depending on availability.

The virtual admission line for the site's streams stacked up as the site offered the bandwidth to support 200,000 simultaneous streamers. Many more joined the queue to get the streams when available. On Thursday, March 17, 700,000 streams of the broadcast were served, according to comScore data. The following day, the site served more than 500,00 streams. Friday registered a 21 percent drop over the previous day's streams.

Live stream availability allowed many users to watch the game from the comfort of their workplaces. Of the total number of streams served on Thursday, 73 percent (510,000) were from Web users at work. On Friday, 73 percent (401,000) were also served to workers in an office.

Unique U.S. Visitors to Online Streaming of First Round NCAA Tournament Games from NCAAsports.com, March 16 and 17, 2006
Unique Visitors
Total U.S. locations March 16 March 17
Waiting room 608,024 524,669
Video broadcasts 700,193 552,046
U.S. work locations March 16 March 17
Waiting room 437,415 393,585
Video broadcasts 510,010 401,983
Source: comScore Networks, Inc., 2006

Nielsen//NetRatings data suggest traffic to CBS properties, which includes CBS SportsLine.com, CSTV.com Networks, NCAAsports.com, PGA Tour, and TennisDirect.com, received an increase in traffic beginning prior to the start of the games. The week ending March 12, NCAAsports.com jumped by 201 percent to 1.2 million visitors. Each of the other properties saw significant increases in traffic as well.

U.S. Traffic Growth on the CBS SportsLine.com Network Sites, February 27-March 12 2006
Site Week Ending 3/05/06 Unique Audience (000) Week Ending 3/12/06 Unique Audience (000) Week-Over-Week Change (%)
NCAASports.com 391* 1,178 201
CSTV.com Networks 2,261 3,296 46
CBS Sportsline.com 1,869 2,398 28
* These estimates are calculated on smaller sample sizes and are subject to increased statistical variability as a result.
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, 2006

U.S. Traffic to NCAA Sites by Location, March 15-16, 2006 (000)
Site 3/15 Unique Work Audience 3/16 Unique Work Audience 3/15 Unique Home Audience 3/16 Unique Home Audience
NCAA sports Sites 4,486 5,857 3,963 4,831
CBS SportsLine.com network** 1,087 2,511 1,107 1,339
CBS SportsLine.com 724 1,546 765 773
NCAAsports.com N/A 1,180 179* 412
CSTV.com Networks 313* 531* 231* 338
* These estimates are calculated on smaller sample sizes and are subject to increased statistical variability as a result.
** Traffic to the CBS SportsLine.com network includes traffic to CBS SportsLine.com, CSTV.com Networks, NCAAsports.com, PGA Tour, and TennisDirect.com and does not include traffic to NFL Internet Network.
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, 2006

"It allows for a good opportunity for targeting, specifically using these types of streams," Nielsen//NetRatings senior director of media Jon Gibs told ClickZ Stats. "It's an opportunity to get a higher targeted audience during office hours and a fairly engaged audience."

The marketing proposition includes rich media units. "This is the equivalent of a more traditional :30 spot on TV, rather than running a search impression and banner ad because of the level of engagement," said Gibs.

The difference is viewers can't time-shift the live streams. "It's running concurrently with the stream; it's not skippable in the same way the traditional spot might be," said Gibs.

Content sites also saw an increase in traffic. SportsLine.com gained the largest market share, with 84 percent growth of NCAA content visits. It's followed by Web-only content from America Online (31 percent), FOX Sports on MSN (29 percent), Yahoo Sports (23 percent), SI.com (13 percent), and ESPN.com (8 percent).

U.S. Traffic to NCAA-Related Sports Sites, March 15-17, 2006
Site Wed: 3/15 Unique Audience (000) Thurs: 3/16 (000) Fri: 3/17 (000) Wed-Fri Growth (%)
CBS SportsLine.com network** 1,958 3,603 3,135 84
AOL Sports (Web only) 761 999 1,006 31
FOX Sports on MSN 1,510 1,953 2,237 29
Yahoo Sports 2,121 2,601 2,377 23
SI.com 724* 819* 773* 13*
ESPN 3,074 3,312 2,941 8
Total unique audience 8,005 9,659 9,573 21
* These estimates are calculated on smaller sample sizes and are subject to increased statistical variability as a result.
** Traffic to the CBS SportsLine.com network includes traffic to CBS SportsLine.com, CSTV.com Networks, NCAAsports.com, PGA Tour, and TennisDirect.com and does not include traffic to NFL Internet Network.
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, 2006

Unique U.S. Visitors to NCAA Men's Basketball Content, March 16 and 17, 2006
March 16 March 17
Unique Visitors (M) Total Unique Users (%) Unique Visitors (M) Total Unique Users (%)
Total U.S. Internet users 111.0 100.0 111.0 100.0
Accessed NCAA content* from any location 8.0 7.2 7.0 6.3
Total U.S. work Internet users 53.5 100.0 53.5 100.0
Accessed NCAA content* from work 4.5 8.4 3.9 7.3
* Based on leading sports sites: NCAAsports.com, ESPN, CBS SportsLine.com, Yahoo Sports, AOL Sports, and FOX Sports on MSN.
Source: comScore Networks, Inc., 2006

NCAAsports.com streamed games to Internet users for the March Madness series. Users signed up for access in advance to gain priority of available streams. Certain areas were only available in select markets.

ComScore releases data collected from its panel of users who opt in to the panel. Nielsen//NetRatings also collects data from its MegaPanel of users.

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Enid Burns

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