This year, college basketball fans will now have more ways than ever to catch all the March Madness action.
CBS (CBS) and Turner (TWX) announced they will provide fans live streaming access across a record 15 different platforms this year —including Amazon's Alexa and Fire, Xbox, and Roku. These arrangements mean that fans will be able to catch more games than any previous March Madness.
Turner's iStreamPlanet will provide the live streaming infrastructure for all March Madness games for the first time this year. Meanwhile, a new interactive bracket will be available on Apple TV allowing fans to watch previews, highlights and have direct access to live games.
"When I started, you only got one game every four hours. That was stupid," former player and current basketball analyst Charles Barkley told CNBC this week. With the advent of streaming technology, however, today it's very different.
"Now, you are going to be at some little school and you are going to see your team play in March Madness – you would never get that when this thing started," he added.
"What's the score to the Duke game, Alexa?"
The Amazon device will allow fans the ability to ask "March Madness" questions related to scores and games. If the game is available on radio network Westwood One – you can even hear a game play-by-play on the device.
The basketball fever has expanded largely in part by the unique deal between Turner and CBS. The two broadcast giants first teamed up to combine resources and talent for the NCAA Tournament in 2010. In April, they extended their deal to the year 2032 — a deal so long that many of the current talent and executives won't even be around at that time.
"Do you know where I'm going to be in 2032," asked veteran sportscaster Ernie Johnson. "Not anywhere near a studio. My feet will be in the sand somewhere and hopefully I'm walking around," he told CNBC last week.
With media consumption changing so rapidly, it begs the question of how companies could strike such a long deal without knowing what the media landscape will resemble in 15 years.
"That's the beauty of the contractual deal we have with the NCAA," said David Levy, Turner's president. "We don't know what the next platform will be. It could be holograms, whatever the case may be, we have the opportunity to use all those platforms as part of the deal."
Levy predicted virtual reality (VR) will be a factor in the future, saying fans will be able to "sit around in New York, Seattle, Dallas with your friends all at the same time, [or] sitting court side watching the game through the internet," he said.
"Whether it's on tablets or phones, holograms, VR or even 3D, we are sure of a couple things and that is the tournament is a huge American celebration people are always going to get behind," said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports.
McManus said the deal's structure allows CBS to monetize the tournament in the future, regardless of how March Madness is being watched at the time.
"The deal worked so well for Turner and CBS it wasn't difficult to figure out a way to extend it to the year 2032 -- even though most us won't be around for that," he added.
Disclosure: NBC News is an investor in Snapchat.
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