Mobile March Madness – Growing the Pie

Friday night had to be very exciting for Assistant Vice President for Alumni Affairs Gordon McDougall and his peers at the VCU Alumni Association. Following their improbable arrival to the Elite Eight, the VCU Rams have the unique distinction of being this year’s Cinderella Story.

The team’s success couldn’t have come at a better time for VCU, as profiled last week by CNBC’s Darren Rovell in an article titled Schools Hoping Cinderella Run Funds Facilities.  Here’s an excerpt:

“VCU, the only team to have played three games to get into the Sweet 16, announced just last month said that it would add 200 seats and a new club level to its 7,500-seat Siegel Center.

VCU athletic director Norwood Teague said that greater fundraising due to the tournament could hasten the timetable. It’s roughly a $4 million project and VCU, whose athletic department is funded mostly by student fees (70 percent) has raised $1.5 million this year. They’ve also hit $1 million in corporate advertising for the first time ever this year…”

While Cinderella stories have always been a part of March Madness, free mobile apps for the iPhone and iPad are a new addition, as detailed by Cheryl Morris at BostInnovation.  The March Madness On Demand (MMOD) app has catered to rapidly shifting consumer preferences for digital media consumption.  According to data released by the NCAA last week, in the first four days of the tournament, the MMOD mobile app averaged 702,000 daily unique users.  That represents 22% of total MMOD users, despite only being available on Apple’s iOS platform.

Perhaps more impressive, mobile access to the tournament appears to be even more important on the weekends.  36% of all streams for March Madness on Demand on Saturday and Sunday were from the iPad and iPhone apps.

In total, live streaming growth has exploded, with 47% more visits this year versus 2010.  Total live streaming hours have also skyrocketed to 10.3 million hours versus 8.7 million hours during the same time frame last year.

One important point to note: mobile isn’t cannibalizing traditional television consumption – far from it.  The parallel growth in this year’s Nielsen TV ratings indicate that mobile access increases the size of the pie by allowing fans ubiquitous access to content.

Have you tried out the MMOD app?  What do you think? If the video below is any indication, we’re willing to bet that more than a few VCU alumni were tuning in via their apps.

Ever True!

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