Is CBS Trying to Charge Fans $3.99 to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online? Not Really.

Is CBS Trying to Charge Fans $3.99 to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online? Not Really.


Is CBS Trying to Charge Fans $3.99 to Watch the NCAA Tournament Online? Not Really.

The NCAA Tournament is the greatest sporting event of the year, which is why there was some shock among sports fans this morning when a CBS press release announced a $3.99 fee to watch games online. Huh? March Madness on Demand was free – and amazing – the last two years, and now CBS was trying to charge fans? Here’s the Sports Business Journal headline: “Fee-Based Component Coming To March Madness Online Coverage.”

Yikes. (The entire clunky press release is below.)

But the good news is that it’s not nearly that bad.

It appears that this $3.99 fee will only impact a small number of viewers – those who don’t have a cable/satellite provider. I’m not sure exactly who these people are that just watch everything online and via netflix, but clearly, they exist. Apparently, all you need to do is mention your cable/satellite provider when you log onto CBSSports to watch games, and boom, you are good to go. What if you’re trying to watch games from the office? I don’t have an answer to that. Perhaps Turner/CBS will have one later today. Here’s the release:


Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA today announced that NCAA® March Madness® Live, formerly March Madness on Demand, will now provide college basketball fans with more opportunities to watch every minute of every game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Produced by Turner Sports Interactive, NCAA® March Madness® Live is a suite of live products presented across multiple screens, including online and as an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch app and, for the first time, on Android phones.
NCAA® March Madness® Live will be available to users across all video screens – online, mobile and tablet– and over Wi-fi and 3G for $3.99 beginning on March 7. Fans will be able to enjoy live streaming video of every broadcast for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship as they are televised by TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, starting with the NCAA Basketball Selection Show on Sunday, March 11, and continuing through the Men’s Final Four® and National Championship Game from New Orleans on March 31 and April 2.
NCAA® March Madness® Live will continue to be launched from, and
NCAA® March Madness® Live will offer higher quality live video streams across platforms; video highlights for every game of the Tournament on the iPhone and Android phones; live game alerts for Android phones, as well as iPhones and iPads; an updated design; and live radio broadcast courtesy of Westwood One/Dial Global Radio Network, for all 67 games across the suite of digital products. In addition to the new offerings, NCAA® March Madness® Live will again provide the same fan-favorite features from last year including: schedules and live game scoring, live tournament brackets, personal channel lineup features, live stats, and live social companion views.
The NCAA® March Madness® Live video player is presented by NCAA Corporate Champions AT&T, Capital One and Coke Zero.  To generate fan excitement leading into March Madness Live coverage, Coke Zero will provide a limited number of fans the opportunity to receive free NCAA® March Madness® access. The promotion launches the week of Feb. 20.
“Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA are committed to providing the excitement of March Madness on as many screens as possible – television, online, mobile and tablets – for viewers to experience all of the exciting action of this great event wherever they are,” said Matthew Hong, senior vice president and general manager of operations for Turner Sports. “Combining TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV with the enhanced offerings of the new NCAA® March Madness® product provides fans with instantaneous on-the-go access ensuring they won’t miss a moment of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.”
“We continue to look at ways to bring the tournament to more of our fan base and keep them connected to the excitement that culminates with the Final Four,” said NCAA interim executive vice president of championships and alliances Greg Shaheen.  “NCAA® March Madness® Live is one of many options college basketball fans will have to watch this year’s tournament how they want, when they want.
The 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship will be available through the following platforms:
  • For the second consecutive year, all 67 games will be televised across four television networks in their entirety — TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV.
  • Turner will stream its linear television games online for free on an authenticated basis on the Turner websites ( and for consumers who have a cable, satellite or telco subscription that includes these respective Turner networks.  Authenticating this year’s Tournament across the Turner Networks is an extension of the company’s TV Everywhere initiative, which is currently available to over 75 million households.
  • All games airing on CBS will be available for free on
NCAA® March Madness® features include:
·        My Channels: Through My Channels, fans can easily find games using this personalized channel finder. By plugging in their zip code, users can select their TV provider and see their channel lineup for every game on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV.
·        The Game Center View: The Game Center view provides fans with a control center at their fingertips for live in-game stats such as player stats, team leaders, scoring streaks, biggest lead and foul trouble, depending on which device they use – along with a graphic lead tracker – and live social features.
·        The Coke Zero™ NCAA March Madness Social Arena: Extending the conversation beyond the broadcast, Coke Zero NCAA March Madness Social Arena will return as the social water cooler for March Madness conversation. New this year, features will be live across the entire NCAA March Madness suite of products and, for the first time, let fans grab key game moments and share them with friends and family. In addition, fans will be able to view social commentary from other fans and celebrities everywhere, answer live tournament trivia, and cheer for their favorite teams. The Coke Zero NCAA March Madness Social Arena will extend onto Coke Zero’s Facebook page – offering a complete video gallery of all fan-grabbed moments, complete access to specially-aggregated Twitter feeds of all 68 teams, a uniquely-visualized bracket view of the loudest fans, and more.
NCAA March Madness will be played at 14 venues around the country beginning March 13.  For more information, go to
Last year, more than 176 million people tuned into the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

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