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March Madness app sets livestream record

NCAA says there were 98 million streams of this year's men's basketball tournament via the March Madness Live app.

Theo Pinson of national champion North Carolina is one of the reasons the NCAA says fans watched a record-setting 98 million live streams of the 2017 men's basketball tourney.
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Looks like national champ North Carolina isn't the only big winner.

The NCAA said Tuesday fans watched a record 98 million livestreams of the men's college basketball tourney on the March Madness Live app. That's a 33 percent increase compared to last year when more than 74 million tuned in to watch all 67 tournament games on 15 different platforms either through their phones, tablets, video game systems or desktop computers.

"I thought we would do well, but this even surpassed my expectations," said Mio Babic, founder of iStreamPlanet, the livestreaming arm for Turner Sports, one of tournament's broadcasters along with CBS. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.) "This shows if you give the fans the content they want, they will come, and they will come in large numbers."

Also, there was a record 4.4 million streams during Monday night's championship game as the Tarheels beat Gonzaga 71-65 for Carolina's sixth national title in school history. Monday's livestream was a 29 percent increase compared to the 3.4 million streams during last year's title game when Carolina lost on a buzzer-beater to Villanova.

The record-breaking streams show basketball fans will watch games any way they possibly can. The big numbers also come as fans had already consumed a record 88 million livestreams of NCAA tourney games entering this past weekend's Final Four matchups. That's a 31 percent increase compared to the 67 million streams during the 2016 Final Four.

Babic said his company is already planning for next year's tourney coverage.

"We've already started thinking, 'How do we make the experience more interactive for fans?' How do we contextualize more data and features?" he said. "It's a never-ending process."

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