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This past Monday night, Turner Sports experienced an all-time best in terms of digital viewership for a men’s basketball national championship.
NCAA March Madness Live generated 4.4 million live video streams as North Carolina defeated Gonzaga 71-65, according to data provided by Turner via data intelligence platform Conviva. The figure was an increase of 29% from 2016.
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During the three-week NCAA Tournament, live video streams on March Madness Live totaled a record of 98 million, an uptick of 33% year-of-year as well.
Mio Babic, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of iStreamPlanet—which was acquired by Turner in August 2015 and is a live video streaming provider—called the record numbers an “important win for the industry overall.” He explained that a close-game alert sent to users with less than five minutes remaining in the National Championship triggered the March Madness Live audience to double over the final minutes. Babic and Turner declined to cite specific numbers.
“We saw thousands and thousands and thousands of more people join because we had that direct relationship with the fans,” said Babic, whose iStreamPlanet has worked with other Turner properties like the NBA, PGA and ELEAGUE, among others. “We told fans, ‘There’s a very, very good game happening at the moment right now and you can tune in straight from your smartphone’. It doubled our audience. … You can notify your fans when you have something unique, something that’s special and will be of interest to your fans. It’s a key learning that we’re going to take advantage of moving forward.”
Babic added that now that iStreamPlanet is within a larger media company like Turner, it can do a better job of driving innovation across the sports ecosystem, finding new ways to monetize digital content and building a better fan experience online and across various devices.
“To truly understand the media world, you need to be inside a media company. You need to understand how this media company makes money, how do distribution rights work, what can and cannot be done and how they’re evolving. That has been a huge value to us,” Babic said.
On social media, March Madness accounts also experienced a 42% increase from an engagement standpoint, recording over 74 million engagements throughout the NCAA Tournament.