Turner Sports has released a trove of statistics on video streaming from the opening week of this year's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, which indicate healthy growth in live video streaming for the event across both broadband and mobile. Turner delivered what it called a record 36.6 million live video streams during the opening week of NCAA March Madness Live, doubling the 18.3 million live streams it delivered over the full course of last year's tournament.
The 36.6 million streams represented 10 million hours of live video, up 198% over the 2102 tournament. Unique broadband visitors watching live video increased 161% over last year to 4.2 million, while unique mobile app viewers rose 121% to 2.6 million.
Engagement went up as well, with viewers watching 105 minutes of live video on broadband and 61 minutes on mobile, a rise of 12% and 42%, respectively, over 2012. Interestingly, mobile streaming appeared to increase as viewers left their offices, having made up an average 46% of all live video streams on Thursday and Friday and 60% over the weekend.
Turner Sports also listed the five most popular games based on live video streams from last week:
- Valparaiso vs. Michigan State - 1,844,000
- Bucknell vs. Butler - 1,784,000
- Mississippi vs. Wisconsin - 1,778,000
- Albany vs. Duke - 1,488,000
- Davidson vs. Marquette - 1,487,000
Four of the top five games started between noon and 1 PM on the East Coast. While it would seem to indicate that much of the viewing took place at work, employers can take at least some solace in the fact that employees in the eastern part of the U.S. were generally doing so during lunch hours.
Somewhat surprising is that none of those top four games were necessarily nailbiters, with the average margin of victory being just over 11 points. The only close game - Marquette edging Davidson by one point - was fifth on the list and didn't start until 3:10 PM ET.
With the tournament field now whittled down to 12 after last night and the remaining games and the next round extending through the weekend, it will be interesting to observe how the combination of higher stakes but with fewer teams and games not being played during general working hours in the U.S. will affect streaming rates and viewing patterns.
Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager for Akamai.