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NCAA March Madness Comes to Digital Screens

A study, which analyzed browser-based (i.e. non-app) page views to the Sports content category, showed that consumers dramatically increased their access of Sports content across all three primary screens for web access – computer, tablet and smartphone – as they tried to stay plugged into the first 32 games of the tournament in real-time.

Web market researcher comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR) released Friday the results of a study of web usage related to the 2012 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament based on data from comScore Device Essentials.

“The NCAA Tournament, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics, is one of those events where sports fans don’t want to miss a beat of the action – especially if they can’t be in front of a TV,” said Debbie Bradley, sr. director at comScore.

[ Also Read: Interactive ESPN TV App for Basketball Tournament ]

As part of the study, comScore analyzed computer vs. non-computer traffic (predominantly smartphones and tablets) for the Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament compared to the average of the three previous Thursdays and Fridays.

The data showed that nearly double the percentage of Sports category content was consumed on non-computer devices as other content categories. For all time periods studied, the percentage of Sports category traffic coming from non-computer devices was approximately 20 percent while other categories had approximately 10 percent of traffic coming from these devices. Friday, March 16, the second day of tournament action, saw non-computer Sports category traffic peak at 22.1 percent.

[ Also Read: LG ‘Home Court Challenge’ for NCAA Men’s Final Four ]

During the first day of opening round NCAA tournament games on Thursday, March 15, total sports-related traffic jumped 79 percent compared to the average of the three previous Thursdays.

In comparison, total traffic to all other web content declined 2 percent. The most significant gain in sports content consumption occurred via tablet at 94 percent, while smartphone activity jumped 83 percent and computer traffic jumped 77 percent.

Friday, March 16 showed a similar story, though gains were not quite as steep as the previous day across all access screens, probably because of the greater interest in the tournament on the opening day.

[ Also Read: Denver to Host NCAA Women’s Final Four ]

However, the study says, gains in both smartphones and tablets were notably higher than computers in relation to Thursday, which may reflect sports fans’ greater likelihood of being on-the-go on Friday, perhaps due to the increased likelihood of taking a vacation day or an extended lunch break at the local sports bar.

“While all-encompassing media events like the NCAA Tournament might eat into the content people typically consume, it actually appears that most usage is incremental content consumption,” added Bradley. “When the content is highly time-sensitive – such as with news or sports scores – there’s a greater likelihood of it being consumed on-the-go via mobile devices.”

According to the company, comScore Device Essentials is a solution that provides insight into digital traffic across all web-enabled devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets and other connected devices. It offers visibility into web traffic patterns according to device characteristics, operating system, connection type, content category and geography.

You can watch all 67 games of NCAA March Madness live on your computer, iPhone, iPad, and select Android phones for a one-time price of $3.99, according to NCAA.

Photo courtesy: LG Electronics

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