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NCAAs to air on Internet

With the NCAA Tournament around the corner, Duke basketball fans will have the opportunity to watch this year’s March Madness from anywhere in the world—anywhere, that is, with a high-speed Internet connection.

College Sports Television will begin offering exclusive online live CBS broadcasts of the NCAA Tournament, an ideal situation for college basketball enthusiasts to watch out-of-market games or watch the tournament in areas without a television.

The two-year-old multi-media company announced the service, dubbed March Madness on Demand, in January. The Tournament package, which costs $19.95, allows fans to watch games through the regional semifinals, even games that are played simultaneously.

“You have your own control room,” said Chris Bevilacqua, CSTV executive vice president and co-founder. “You can watch whatever game you want.”

The service also features Gametracker, player and game statistics, a video highlight package, live press conferences, daily video newsletters and previous game recaps. In addition, CSTV is developing chat rooms so that viewers can communicate with far-away friends who are watching game coverage as well.

These extras, however, are not appealing to all Duke fans, many of whom just want to watch the Tournament.

“All that extra stuff is more of a distraction,” said Marshall Willis, Trinity ’02., who lives in Kingsville, Texas. “I just enjoy watching the game. I don’t even like my girlfriend talking to me during a game or anyone blocking the screen.”

College Sports Television officials believe a growing number of broadband users will lead to an increase in the viewing of sporting events online, especially March Madness, which Bevilacqua called “the crown jewel of college basketball tournaments.”

“Lots more people have high-speed access than before,” Bevilacqua said. “We believe that because of the fact that more people have broadband, more people are considering using it [in this way].”

Technology-savvy members of the Blue Devils’ large fan base are possible CSTV service clients. Current Duke students have already shown interest in the idea of following Tournament games online.

“I participate in a lot of March Madness pools,” freshman Jason Klein said. “My interest isn’t in what just Duke is doing. I would definitely be interested in looking into that.”

Once resident Blue Devil fans, alumni may also utilize the service to watch Duke in the Tournament from their post-graduation locations.

“For the last four years, I’ve always been at Duke to watch the games,” said Dustin Stevens, Trinity ’04, who now lives in Gainesville, Fla. “Maybe this year if it doesn’t work out I might try [March Madness on Demand] for next season—or I might just go to sports bars that have satellite TV and watch the games.”

CSTV has advertised its new service for the past two weeks and will increase such promotion as the Tournament time nears.

“You can expect Duke students to be hearing more and more about March Madness on Demand as we approach the March 17 start of the Tournament,” CSTV Director of Corporate Communications Eric Handler said, adding that so far, sales are going “extremely well.”

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