Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

March Madness Comes to the iPad, for Free

Big sports events generally shy away from the Web, because they’re still worried–with good reason–about trading analog dollars for digital dimes.

One exception to the rule has been the annual March Madness NCAA college basketball tournament, which CBS has been broadcasting for free on the Web for several years.

Which is smart: A big chunk of the tournament occurs during weekday work hours, so giving people the opportunity to stream games to their PCs isn’t a channel conflict, it’s just a chance to collect more eyeballs.

This year is the first year that CBS and Time Warner’s Turner are splitting up broadcast and digital rights, and the two networks have added a new twist: Free streaming of all the games to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. (No luck this year for Google Android fans).

[UPDATE: Several of you have asked when the app will show up at iTunes. March 10, Turner says.]

In the past CBS has offered iPhone streaming, but only via a paid app; this will be the first year the tournament is available on the iPad.

The tournament, which now features an extra four teams and an extra two days of games, kicks off March 15; we’ll see then how Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which is one of the tournament’s digital sponsors, hold up to demand.

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