NCAA Goes Backwards On Streaming The Basketball Tournament
from the same-service,-now-for-a-fee! dept
If anyone has gotten the streaming sports thing right in the past, it’s been NCAA Basketball. I’ve actually pointed to them as an example in the past of how the rest of the sporting world should embrace streaming their games and advertise the hell out of the experience. Rather than locking down access to viewership, like the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL, the NCAA Basektball Tournament got it right, partnering with broadcasters to stream the games to their sites free of charge, with all the advertising one would expect on television. It was a wonderful method for ensuring that one of my monitors at work had their games on. It made it certain that I’d be that weird guy staring at images on his phone while taking the train home from work. It confused my neighbors as to how I could somehow simultaneously grill steaks on my deck while announcers went ballistic over last second hail mary shots as time ran out on the clock. I was engaged (sorry Mom and Dad, I mean engaged to the game).
And now they’ve taken that all away from me. To be fair, they’re still streaming the games. And they promise that the streams will work across multiple platforms (computer, iPad, iPhone, Android devices, etc.). And it only costs $4.99 for the entire tournament.
But that’s where the lie in all this is. It’s not just $4.99 to watch the tournament on every device other than my television (where it’s FREE!). There are serious mental transactions to consider here. Like most red-blooded Americans, I’m in an NCAA office bracket. Something like half the games in the tournament take place during work hours across the country. Most of us don’t have televisions at our desks, in our cubicles, wherever. Watching at work is kind of the whole point here, with all the ducking and dodging from our bosses we have to do as a result. Now, we can argue all we want whether watching the tourney at work is productive or a good idea, but from the NCAA’s standpoint, they shouldn’t care at all. They should want people to watch. Asking them to pay $4.99 to do all of this is a massive fail, particularly since all of those same advertisements that were in place remain.
So…they’re charging for something that used to be free…without adding any benefit. I watched the games on their feeds the past couple of years. This year, not so much. The obvious question is does the money they’re making from the $4.99/subscriber outweigh the eyeballs that are no longer watching the advertising because of that cost. Maybe those in the comments can change my mind, but I’m fairly certain there’s more folks like me out there than people buying the “package”.