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Turner's Digital March Madness Traffic Dips Versus Last Year

With a move to paid subscriptions and TV Everywhere authentication, Turner Sports said traffic to and March Madness Live broadband and mobile services dropped 6% from last year's basketball tourney, to 51.6 million visits, from March 11 to the April 2 title game.

On a daily basis over the same period in 2012, and March Madness Live averaged 1.1 million daily unique visitors -- down 10% -- and averaged 473,000 daily uniques on mobile (down 1%).

Turner Sports did disclose the amount of video streams or hours viewed in 2012; last year, it delivered an aggregate of 13.7 million hours across all platforms.

But those initial numbers don't count page-view traffic to Turner's, and websites, which provided authenticated access to some 77 million households through participating pay TV providers, or (which provided free access to all games aired on CBS).

According to Turner Sports, the cumulative traffic across all NCAA-related sites is expected to be up over 2011.

In a new method to the madness for 2012, Turner Sports offered live feeds of the games carried on its networks only to authenticated users of participating cable, satellite or telco TV providers or to users who paid a $3.99 fee, which granted access to all 67 games in the NCAA tournament across broadband and mobile.

During the opening week of the tournament (March 11-18), the Turner-operated and mobile properties generated 31.3 million visits, which was flat with last year.

Total visits across mobile apps were up 17% this year. However, Turner did not disclose how many users actually paid the $3.99 fee to watch the live games via the apps.

On Apple's iTunes, NCAA March Madness Live was the No. 1 app in the sports category throughout the opening week of the tourney and was the No. 1 app on the first full day of the tournament (Thursday, March 15). According to Google Play (formerly the Android Market), the NCAA March Madness Live app for Android devices has been downloaded fewer than 500,000 times.

Turner Sports said the average time spent streaming on mobile was up 40% on the first full two days of games (March 15-16) and up 36% on March 17-18 versus the year prior. Time spent viewing per unique user on the iPad was up 20% during the second round and up 22% for the third round over last year.