by Timothy Geigner

Filed Under:
cable connection, march madness, ncaa, streaming


NCAA Still Going Backwards On Tournament Streaming

from the seriously? dept

Last year, around NCAA Tournament time, I wrote a piece about how the NCAA was going backwards on streaming the games. Once free streams were locked up behind subscription charges, reducing the pool of eyeballs that could be watching the advertising that actually makes the NCAA and their broadcast partners the real money in this whole situation. It's been something of a disappointment for me, being a sports fan, to see how far the leagues are going to lock up their content rather than expose it to more revenue-generating viewers via the internet. Seriously, can't I just watch the game?

Well, add another wrinkle into the mix for this year's NCAA Tournament. Gone is the $4.99 subscription fee, but before you begin jumping up and down for joy, they've now added cable subscription requirements for any game that isn't on CBS.

Things have changed a bit this time around to stream March Madness online. Last year, the NCAA charged a small fee for access to all of the games. This time around, any of the games that are broadcast on CBS are free for anyone to stream online. The games that are broadcast on TBS, TNT or truTV, the collection of Turner Broadcasting-owned channels, will require a cable subscription authentication.
While this may not strike some of you as wholly unreasonable, it's actually worse for several reasons. First, it's another step backwards from the way things are trending. Cable cords are being cut in favor of the evermore common micro-transactions that occur for online content. I didn't think last year (and still don't) that such a transaction made sense for the Tournament, because it naturally limits viewers for advertising purposes, but at least it was in keeping with the modern trend of viewership. For the NCAA to instead embrace a log in system to stream games that is trending downward in use is downright stupid.

Worse yet, it isn't as if all cable customers can get in either. At least that's the conclusion I came to yesterday when I grudgingly tried to log in from work to watch the games (sorry, boss) and found that my cable provider, 3rd largest provider in the 3rd largest market in America, wasn't listed in the log in options. This may be simply a result of RCN not having a deal worked out with either the NCAA or the cable channels in question, but as the end viewer I don't care about such things. RCN is the only provider for my building and the NCAA's system results in my not being able to watch the games and generate ad revenue for them and their broadcast partners.

Or, rather, I can't watch the games on their sites. I can certainly find them streaming elsewhere, where the ads aren't targeted to my region (or country) and fall outside of the NCAA's control regardless. The NCAA could do this freaky free streaming too, if they wanted. I saw them do it not 3 years ago. So why are they going backwards?

Reader Comments

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2013 @ 6:11pm

    Yes cable cords are being cut, but there are also just as many people who can't even get a cable subscription. Bravo NCAA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2013 @ 7:24pm

    I'd rather it be streamed on the internet than having that crap all over TV.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2013 @ 7:47pm

    This sounds like what happened when Univsersal sports signed a deal with DirecTV and Dish where you had to have a subscription to either service to watch Universal's live figure skating coverage. That just made hardcore fans sign up for a subscription from a service having all Russian TV, including sports channels, that had the figure skating events.

    I don't know if any of the Russian sports channels will have march madness, but if they do, this one online subscription service will sudddenly get a lot of new customers. And since, they actually have permission from all the channels to rebroadcast the programming to any country in the world, except Russia and Ukraine, there is not much that the NCAA could very much do aboutthat, just like there is nothing that Universal could do about this one service streaming skating into the USA, becuase they had permission from CnopT, who held broadcasting rights to skating, to stream it to anywhere around the world, except Russia and Ukraine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jeff Rife, 22 Mar 2013 @ 9:39pm

    No auth check for me

    I just tested, and was able to watch a game that was being broadcast on TruTV, and there was no authorization check of any kind...the game just started streaming.

    Perhaps it's some sort of deal with my ISP (Verizon FiOS).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    kryptonianjorel (profile), 23 Mar 2013 @ 12:17am

    Re: No auth check for me

    4 hours free. So you can watch 2 games on there, and afterwards you need to log in. So their attempt at getting you hooked instead just pisses you off. I'd be more than glad to use their program to watch the tourney and sit through their ads, but if I need cable to do it, I'll just watch the games on my TV. The reason I want to watch them online is because I pay a ton for a good internet connection with a computer connected to my TV, and don't want to pay $80+ a month for cable on top of it all. Instead now I find myself giving my eyeballs to another service that doesn't restrict my viewing habits so archaically

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2013 @ 4:12am

    Re: Re: No auth check for me

    Where do you get cable for $80 a month. I cannot get it for any less than $140 on Comcast

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    ChronoFish (profile), 23 Mar 2013 @ 5:46am

    Got the game I auth check

    (cable) Chord cutter since 2001.... I was only interested in 2 games... which were on at the same time. I watched the one I was most interested in and got see my Alma-matter advance.

    While it may have not been as free and open as you wanted, it certainly satisfied my needs.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Ninja (profile), 23 Mar 2013 @ 6:17am

    Offer official streaming of any game for, say, $0.5 per game with a discount for multiple simultaneous streams (ie: want to watch 2 in a row? $0.75). I took those values out of my arse. With proper advertisement and if there are enough eyeballs the price can go down raking in more viewers. I'd even offer a low quality free stream.

    But then again I'm the average Joe with an average IQ that can get this much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    special-interesting (profile), 23 Mar 2013 @ 1:19pm

    What is the NCAA anyway. What makes them so popular or indispensable? Why do they exist?

    National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was supposed to deal only with game rules and treatment of players, coaches and in some remote way attending fans safety. Rules and Safety. Nothing else. What they need is some good old competition.

    Its another association likely hijacked by power and profits. In no way could anyone relate local broadcast rights to rules and safety. What they are doing is way beyond the original charter. So much so it may even have legal or civil court problems. They were supposed to only gently oversee (regulate is to strong) tournaments and conferences not sponsor it themselves.

    It would be better if schools set up their own conferences and not participate in an association that do not benefit players, coaches fans and school itself. Associations are sometimes good and beneficial but once they get to big for themselves (or corrupted by money and power) the romance is over.

    Condensing the above comments: Wtf!

    Have cut the cord long ago being tired of bundling and other set top box scams. (cant even use the tuner in the TV) Have saved thousands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Jay, 24 Mar 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: No auth check for me

    The 4 hour check is only done with cookies it looks like. I've been watching constant streaming of the tournament without a cable subscription in "incognito" mode in Chrome and then restarting the browser every 4 hours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2013 @ 8:14am

    Seems weird. I've been able to stream (without logging in) for a few games. I got a notice partway through that I'd need to login/have a cable subscription after the 3rd game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2013 @ 8:38am

    It could also be that RCN doesn't have a SAML interface to allow third parties to authenticate its users to their services. There are technical hurdles to implementation, not just contractual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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