Updated: Second-screen viewership of the NCAA March Madness tournament hit record levels in its first week, with more than 51 million live video streams. The enthusiasm for watching teams hit the boards on streaming devices meant that total viewing by Tuesday had already surpassed the online audience for last year's entire tourney.
Turner Sports noted in a release that online viewing is up 40 percent compared to the same time frame in 2013.
Online video viewing was already at a record pace at the start of the tournament, with 21 million live video streams and more than 4 million hours of live video consumed in the first three days. Much like the Sochi Olympics for NBC Sports, the pace is record-setting, according to Turner Sports.
The five most popular March Madness games watched online during the first week of the tournament were Dayton vs. Ohio State, with 4.62 million streams, Mercer vs. Duke, with 4.21 million streams, Harvard vs. Cincinnati, with 2.77 million streams, Kentucky vs. Wichita State, with 1.99 million streams, and Stanford vs. New Mexico, with 1.45 million streams.
Live streaming the tourney over mobile platforms saw a massive climb: 74 percent more streams were delivered to tablets and smartphones this year compared to 2013.
Turner cited stats collected by Omniture, Conviva and Bango in compiling its report.
The data appears consistent with recent reports from firms like Parks Associates and The Diffusion Group that found younger consumers are turning their focus online for the bulk of their viewing. "Late Millennials" aged 18-24 spend 33 percent of their time watching content delivered over the top compared with 29 percent watching linear broadcast TV, while "Early Millennials" aged 25-34 spend 23 percent of their time online and 30 percent watching linear TV, TDG reported.
Parks Associates found that 37 percent of Late Millennials consider online video their most important video source.
That doesn't mean older viewers are avoiding the online video bandwagon, however. While TDG noted that 61 percent of consumers over 55 prefer linear TV, and only 4 percent watch OTT, Parks found that more than 50 percent of U.S. households use either a subscription or transactional video on demand service (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or Redbox).
Updated March 26 to reflect more current online viewership stats released by Turner Sports.
- see the Turner Sports release
- and this earlier release
- and this Parks Associates release
Youngest generation trending away from traditional cable viewing model
NBC scores historic online video numbers at Sochi Olympics, but will it bank on OTT viewers?
OTT video a top concern at Mobile World Congress
Turner touts March Madness Live app, encourages subs to authenticate early
Apple TV launches ACC Sports college network