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?