March Madness Driving Fans Online

    March 19, 2008

Sports fans are going online at greater rates to watch games and follow their favorite sports teams, according to a new study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The "Third Annual Sports and Technology Study: Future of Sports Content Consumption," conducted by CEA and the Sports Video Group (SVG), found that 38 percent of sports fans will download and watch a game for free over the next two years, an increase of 10 percent from 2007.

Networks are giving fans the ability to watch games online, including the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament because of fans increased demand for online sports.

"CBS and the NCAA, with their March Madness on Demand package, recognize the importance of providing consumers with sports content when and where they want it," says Jason Oxman, senior vice president, industry affairs, CEA.

"As both broadband and cell phone penetration steadily increase, we saw at the International CES that consumers continue to migrate their entertainment viewing to new platforms, and CEA believes the sports consumption landscape will continue to evolve in these new and exciting ways."

The CEA study found that sports fans are going online for information, statistics and highlights when they are geographically separated from their favorite team. Forty-one percent of basketball fans say their favorite team is located in a different city compared with just 26 percent who say they live in the same city as their favorite team.

A majority of U.S. households (55%) also have broadband Internet access, making it easier to access their team’s information and watch game highlights. The study also found that more than half of HDTV-owning sports fans, or sports fans intending to buy an HDTV, will watch highlight clips online, at YouTube or

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is also helping drive sales of HDTVs with an estimated 1 million HDTVs (934,000) being sold amounting to more than $1 billion in retail sales.

In related March Madness news has released an additional 250,000 VIP passes for its on demand player. The initial 500,000 were snapped up as of 4 PM ET yesterday. Currently the VIP capacity on is at 99 percent so you need to make a fast break to get a pass, if you have not already done so.