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Latest Edition of NCAA March Madness Live Dives Deeper Into the Bracket With Personalization Tools Developed In Partnership With Google Cloud

19/03/2019

Latest Edition of NCAA March Madness Live Dives Deeper Into the Bracket With Personalization Tools Developed In Partnership With Google Cloud Streaming quality - supported by iStreamPlanet - holds strong at 1080p60 with Turner expanding availability in Mobile Web By Brandon Costa, Director of Digital

Monday, March 18, 2019 - 2:53 pm

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It's that time of the year again where Americans gather around big screens at sports bars, laptops in offices (shhh!), and their phones on the train to see if their alma mater can shock the nation and just how quickly their entire bracket will go bust this year.

March Madness is a special page in the sports calendar that also brings us one of the pioneers (and reigning champions) of live sports streaming experiences: NCAA March Madness Live. With the live stream of all 67 games available within the platform in addition its own native bracket challenge - the app is the ultimate destination for the most multi-tasked event in all of American sports.

This year, Turner Sports, CBS Sports, and the NCAA will team up to deliver NCAA March Madness Live to a record 17 platforms this year. The product, which is in its ninth year, will feature a streaming quality as high as 1080p at 60fps (frames per second) and will also feature an interactive bracket where users can make their picks, track their progress, and dive right into live video (and highlights) within the bracket. Its many of these customization features surrounding the live video that helped the product take home a Sports Emmy (Outstanding Trans-Media Sports Coverage) for its 2017 iteration at last spring's ceremony.

This year, the NCAA Digital team is looking to ramp up that aspect of the product by introducing new BracketIQ tools developed in partnership with Google Cloud. It includes a Matchup Analysis system that allows users to add extra statistical analysis into their individual picks or their picks bracket-wide. For example, players can choose statistics or rankings - for example, highest RPI or best defensive team that mean the most to them and use sliders to set the level of priority they want to give those. The bracket then can help users make picks based on those stats and elements of a team's play that they value.

We're going deep in the bracket because we know that's what is so unique about the tournament, says Hania Poole, SVP of NCAA Digital and who is also GM of Turner's live sports streaming service, B/R Live. It's also where our most deeply engaged fans [are]. No surprise. Our bracket players watch 25% more live video. Which is what we want. I think if you are a bracket player you are going to be really pleased with playing the game and watch at the same time. Its all-inclusive. That's a competitive advantage for us.

As for the live video viewing experience, MML whose streaming infrastructure is supported by iStreamPlanet, will also bring back the streaming-exclusive whip-around show Fast Break for the opening weekend. There, users can watch a single show taking you to the most exciting moments going on, instead of manually selecting the game they'd like to watch at that time.

According to Poole, NCAA Digital will also be granting a larger free preview period for newer users looking to get into their product via mobile web. While users of the product will ultimately need to authenticate using their TV/cable provider credentials, there was a desire to give more time to those who typically access via mobile web to embrace the product.

Now we're at the point where mobile web streaming is as good as anything else, says Poole, and we've come to realize that it doesn't actually cannibalize our other platforms. It's additive. That's an important area for us for growth.

NCAA March Madness Live is also remaining committed to distributing live games in virtual reality. 21 games in this year's tournament will be produced in virtual reality, including the semifinals on Final Four Saturday and the National Championship Game the following Monday. The VR productions are handled by Intel True VR and will stream live coverage and VOD content to a unique app (NCAA March Madness Live VR) that is available in the Oculus store.

This is the third straight year where live VR has played a role in the NCAA Tournament and Poole says seeing live game content will be akin to purchasing a virtual ticket to the broadcast. Early round games will feature an embed of the television commentary while any VR production from the Sweet 16 on to the Final will have a dedicated announce crew on site.

We think the quality [of VR] gets better and better each year, says Poole We're very excited for it.

NCAA March Madness Live is available on 17 unique platforms including this year's newcomers, Android TV and Oculus Go. Additional platforms include: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Android handset, Android tablet, Amazon Echo family of devices, Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Samsung Gear VR, mobile web, Roku players and TV models, desktop web and Xbox One. Viewers may register using their TV provider login credentials.
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2019/03/18/latest-edition-of-ncaa-march-ma...
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