Sporting News Today’s Paid Cross-Platform Digital Starts April 1

Sporting News Today March 17, 2010

More details on the The Sporting News switch from free to paid for its digital daily Sporting News Today, which was first announced by Publisher Jeff Price at our paidContent2010 conference last month. The Sporting News is partnering with its current digital publisher Zinio for the April 1 launch. A monthly subscription runs $2.99 and, unlike most publications, covers access on any platform or device Zinio and Sporting News offer including PC, Mac, and yes, even iPad. New features include video highlights from CineSport. The new edition kicks off with a 60-day free trial so it will take a while to see what kind of traction the pay strategy gets. You can hear Price’s rationale for the move in the video below.

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March Madness: Coming to a Laptop Near You

March Madness is kicking off with its opening round game today, and CBS  is getting ready to live stream all games online starting with the first round on Thursday. The network has already made $37 million and sold all of its ad revenue for March Madness On Demand, AdAge is reporting. However, other sites could also profit from the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, as almost half of its audience will follow games and scores online, according to a new report from Unicast.

As it turns out, March Madness is very much a two-screen experience for many viewers, with live streaming only being one of many parts to the puzzle. Eighty-three percent of its audience will watch it on TV, 44 percent will follow the tournament online and 10 percent will use a mobile device. Sports sites like ESPN.com and Yahoo Sports should see a lot of traffic from fans trying to keep track of the scores, but the official CBS live stream at NCAA.com will see its fair share of users as well: 54 percent of the March Madness online and mobile audience actually wants to watch games in real time.

Unicast’s new 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament Fever Report reveals that 58 percent of the March Madness online audience want to use the medium to keep track of scores while 49 percent want to watch game highlights online. Catching up on complete games after they air is something that only 19 percent are interested in. Most users said they will flock to ESPN.com (69 percent), followed by Yahoo Sports (42 percent), FoxSports.com (34 percent) and CBSSports.com (29 percent). The official CBS-powered NCAA.com site was on the mind of 26 percent of the respondents.

51 percent of the respondents don’t care about and won’t follow March Madness at all, which still leaves 49 percent ready to take work a little less seriously in the weeks to come. Out of those, 44 percent will go online. Put those pieces of pie into context, and you end up with the estimate that around 11.6 percent of U.S. adults are planing to tune into March Madness online. That’s a lot of eyeballs, even if not everyone follows through. Last year’s March Madness online coverage was seen by 7.52 million people, which generated a total of 8.6 million hours of live streaming video, according to CBS.

AdAge reported yesterday that CBS has sold as many ads online as on TV this year. Of course, TV ad revenue still outweighs online, which was estimated to be around $619 million for last year’s March Madness. Still, online revenue is up 20 percent, which validates CBS’s strategy to stream the games in real time without any of the restrictions NBC imposed on its Olympic coverage this year.

Related content on NewTeeVee: Where to Watch March Madness Online

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Roundbox Buys IP Of ‘TV Companion’ Dashboard Startup Jacked

Jacked

Heavily-funded mobile broadcast software firm Roundbox is buying the technology and IP of Jacked, a startup which provides web-based dashboards that aggregate info related to live TV broadcasts. Roundbox says it will integrate Jacked’s technology into its ‘mobile broadcast suite’—which is used by broadcasters to deliver content, like video and TV listings, onto mobile devices. The dashboards will no longer exist separately.

Jacked’s dashboards have primarily been used by sports fans to track stats and player information on their computers while watching live games (The company talked about expanding the dashboards to other types of broadcasts, although nothing seems to have come of those plans). Jacked was founded by former American Greetings (NYSE: AM) Mobile head Bryan Biniak, who is joining Roundbox’s advisory board.

The company had raised about $7 million in funding from Provenance Ventures, Core Capital Partners and Gabriel Venture Partners since its start in 2006. Roundbox, meanwhile, has raised at least $43 million, including $20 million in a third round in December 2008.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

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Where to Watch the Indian Premiere League Cricket Season Online

Updated: Turns out, March Madness isn’t the only major sporting event starting this weekend: Cricket fans all over the world have been feverishly awaiting today’s start of the Indian Premiere League Cricket Season. In fact, the first game is already underway while I’m writing this story, with the Deccan Chargers facing off against the Kolkata Knight Riders, and the audience is going crazy on Twitter, posting tweets faster than a Cricket fan’s heartbeat.

So where do you turn to watch the Indian Premiere League Cricket Season? Not ESPN or Fox Sports. U.S. broadcasters tend to ignore the event, but cricket fans can turn to YouTube instead, where the complete season — with all of its 60 matches will be broadcast in real time almost all over the world. Missed a match? No worries, the IPL’s YouTube channel will also offer past games on demand.

The Indian Premiere League has only been around for three seasons, but it’s already been called “the world’s hottest sports league” by Forbes. The 2008 semifinals and final were watched by 62 million TV viewers in India, which comes to about 11 percent of the country’s cable audience. YouTube signed a deal with the league in January, which marks the first time the site was able to secure the online rights for a sports event of this scale.

YouTube will broadcast the Indian Premiere League games worldwide in real time, with one big exception: the U.S., where viewers won’t get to see the games 15 minutes after they’ve ended. That may be a concession to conflicting pay-TV rights, but it should actually help many of us to follow the league. Today’s game between the Deccan Chargers and the Kolkata Knight Riders started at 8 p.m. local time in Mumbai, which is 6.30 a.m. PST, and some games will get underway even earlier. Cricket fans can find the complete schedule for the season here.

Update: Subscription-based online sports site Willow.tv will stream the games in real time in the U.S., but cricket fans have to pay $60 to gain access to the live streams.

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Verizon Wireless Steals Play From Sprint: Signs $720 Million Deal With NFL

NFL Redzone now on Verizon Wireless

The NFL has signed a new four-year deal with Verizon Wireless, putting an end to a roughly five-year partnership with Sprint (NYSE: S).

The deal is valued at $720 million, including a rights fee and advertising spending, according to the WSJ, which quotes people familiar with the negotiations. NFL fans on the Verizon Wireless network will have access to the popular NFL RedZone channel from the NFL Network, including access to live streaming games on Sunday and Thursday. Verizon will kick off things next month with coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft on April 22. Release.

Sprint reportedly signed a five-year, $600 million deal in September 2005, so either it was not able to renew the deal or did not try to renew the deal. However, the deal has been sweet to Sprint, which packaged it together with its Simply Everything plans, or sold it separately for $15 a month. Sprint said that its NFL Mobile Live app reached 1 million downloads quicker than any other application in the company’s history during the 2008 season, and consistently drove more usage than any other application Sprint offered.

Verizon is not currently saying what phones will be supported or how it will be priced until closer to the start of the NFL season in August.

Other features of NFL Mobile on Verizon Wireless will include:

—Video: Game highlights and a collection of on-demand video, featuring analysis and access to the NFL Network and NFL Films.
—Audio: Live radio broadcasts of every regular season and playoff game from both home and away teams.
—Fantasy: Access to fantasy information, news, and player and team statistics.
—Customizable NFL alerts, ringtones and graphics.

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Yahoo Nets Hockey Night In Canada Streaming Rights

Made In Canada Parade

Canada continues to stick it to the U.S. when it comes to hockey. Not only do they get the gold medal, now Canadians can watch Hockey Night in Canada streamed live on Yahoo Canada for the rest of the season. (For those who made it through the Vancouver closing ceremonies, the table top hockey part of the Made in Canada parade was to the famed theme song from HNIC.) The Yahoo-CBC deal runs from this Saturday through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including live playoff games. They’re not disclosing financial details and I haven’t been able to confirm whether any money is actually changing hands or if ad rev share is involved. Release.

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CBS Adds Live 3G Streaming To March Madness App; Charges $9.99

CBS Mobile March Madness on Demand 2010

No need to duck out of work early, now you can watch March Madness games live over your iPhone, and for the first time—anywhere over AT&T’s 3G network.

The application, which is expected to be available Monday on iTunes, will cost $9.99—twice as much as last year’s version that was limited WiFi networks. Rob Gelick, the SVP and GM of CBS (NYSE: CBS) Mobile, expects the demand to be there for live streaming video: “Last year, we were the first to do a live sporting event with the March Madness app, and since then the appetite for video and live video has grown massively for us…We one-upped ourselves. Now people can stay connected regardless of where they are.” [Note: The NBA streamed the All-Star Game live just prior to March Madness in February 2009.]

A free ‘lite’ version, which is sponsored by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), provides on-demand video highlights from every game, live scores, and news coverage. CBS will also launch a free version for BlackBerry, which will be sponsored by Mercedes Benz—but it won’t have live video, or on-demand clips. The only other live video will be available on AT&T’s FLO TV service, which will get all 63 games. AT&T (NYSE: T) is the Exclusive Wireless Partner of the NCAA , so Verizon Wireless’ FLO TV service will be limited to general coverage that’s available on CBS. The opening round game is March 16.

The paid CBS iPhone app will also provide live radio broadcasts from Westwood One throughout the entire tournament, and push alerts to the phone to let you know if a particular game has gone into over time, or there’s a potential upset on the way. Gelick: “Part of the challenges we had last year, was that there’s all of these great games going on at the same time, which one should you watch?” Both the free and paid apps will have an interactive tournament bracket that updates with real-time scores, plus news and the ability to send comments to both Facebook and Twitter. 

Interestingly, both apps were developed in partnership with MLB Advanced Media, which has built an extensive streaming video platform in-house.

When asked why CBS didn’t produce an Android or Palm (NSDQ: PALM) app, Gelick responded: “Not this year. I think that you try to make sure what you are delivering is world class, and we’ve expanded from last year’s base by almost 2x in terms of the number of touch points. It becomes a scale issue….This is the nicest product we’ve delivered to date.”

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