CBS Sports and Microsoft Silverlight Team Up for March Madness

New high-def video player to give fans enhanced online experience

Filed at 12:27 p.m. EST on Feb. 18, 2009

March Madness is getting an on-line upgrade. has added a high-def video player, powered by Microsoft Silverlight, to enhance the video stream of its March Madness on Demand experience, which had 4.8 million unique visitors for last year's tournament.

"Offering a high-definition quality video player, as has done with NCAA March Madness on Demand, is clearly the next stop in the evolution of online video coverage of major sporting events," said Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports and CBS News in a statement.

Silverlight will allow viewers to upgrade from the standard video player (approximately 550 kb/s) to the enhanced video (delivering 1.5 mb/s). Both players are offered free of charge on the site.

"Our goal with this project is to help fans connect with their teams in the most fun and engaging ways possible," said Scott Guthrie, corporate VP of the .NET Developer division at Microsoft, in a statement. "Silverlight excels during these types of high-traffic, online media events."

CBS Sports began providing live streaming video of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2003, showing the first 56 games of the tourney and blacking out local broadcasts. Starting last year they showed every game, in what was the first major sporting event to be broadcast live for free on the Internet.

The first round of this year's tournament beings on March 19.