According to a report in Fierce Online Video, the CBS Interactive free online coverage of the 2009 NCAA Mens Basketball championship delivered 8.6 million hours of video and audio. This represents a 70% increase over last year. The coverage garnered about $30 million in revenue, up more than 30% from last year.
As I’ve pointed out for other Internet coverage of sport events, this still pales next to the traditional broadcast numbers. Nielsen estimates that about 17.6 million viewers watched the championship game this week. Clearly, the Internet coverage has a long way to go before it will rival the broadcast audience, but the growth trajectory is impressive. And according to one report, about half the Internet viewers opted for the higher quality video.
We’re rapidly approaching a critical mass of U.S. homes equipped with broadband Internet service. The music, newspaper, and magazine industries are already dealing with hard lessons about the impact of the Web on their businesses, and I expect that television and movies are going to be faced with similar challenges in the near future.