In anticipation of a massive influx of online viewers, CBS Corp is doubling the amount of bandwidth available for streaming video on SportsLine.com, the network’s online sports portal.
Last year, NCAA tournament coverage online brought in more than $4 million in ad revenue. This year, the company has already sold around $9 to $10 million worth of online advertising, according CBS Sports Properties Group director Chris Simko in a Bloomberg report last month.
CBS has not said exactly how many online viewers it expects for March Madness 2007, but with the additional bandwidth capacity, SportsLine.com is expected to be able to support about 350,000 simultaneous viewers. CBS will also be using the additional bandwidth to stream higher-quality video. If the site exceeds the allotted number of streams, excess viewers will be shuttled off to an online waiting room where they’ll wait until someone else leaves.
2007 will be the second year that CBS has offered free, ad-supported online viewing of the basketball tournament. Because of local TV “blackout” rules, CBS still has to block out the online video streams in certain areas.
Only the first three rounds of the tournament will be streamed online. CBS is hoping to capture viewers while they’re at work, and in an inventive twist, has even included a special “boss button” that will mute the audio and replace the screen with a fake spreadsheet image.