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Welcome to the inaugural Silverlight/UX team blog. My name is Chris Carper, and I am a Director on the Silverlight Business development team here at Microsoft. This is what we hope will be many Silverlight blog posts from those whose day to day jobs here at Microsoft is creating, marketing, and delivering Silverlight to the masses. There is no better way to jumpstart this blog than by talking about NCAA March Madness on Demand in 2009.

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, otherwise known as “March Madness”, is one of the most watched, most anticipated sporting events in the United States. NCAA Division I Men's Basketball programs from across the country compete year round for one of the 65 spots in this coveted tournament which is hosted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA"). CBS is the exclusive broadcaster of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship and this year Microsoft teamed up with CBS Interactive to deliver a new High Quality experience inside the CBSSports.com March Madness on Demand video player ("MMOD"). First launched in 2003, NCAA March Madness on Demand provides live streaming video of all 63 games of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, from the first round of the tournament through the Men's Final Four® and Championship. CBS Interactive has more than 180 million people visiting its properties each month, making it a top 10 web property globally and its portfolio of leading brands include CNET, CBS.com, CBSSports.com,, GameSpot, TV.com/a>, BNET and Last.fm.

The process of designing and building out the High Quality video player for NCAA March Madness on Demand started about 4 months ago, when CBS and Microsoft met at CBSSports.com headquarters to spec out what the requirements were and what the experience should look like. Microsoft brought in a respected design and development partner in Vertigo Software Inc., to help consult and build out the Silverlight HQ experience.

We agreed early on to create a simple, elegant user experience which is very easy to navigate. The experience offers 4 different video quality settings from 400k (good) - 1.5Mb (best), along with the ability to follow your favorite team throughout the bracket. We also allow you to get buzzer beater videos, most watched video for the day, and historical highlights from previous years NCAA tournament games. The best of all the features allows you to watch any of the 63 games live at any time throughout the tournament.

NCAA March Madness on Demand traffic figures through Sunday, March 22:

  • 5.6 million unique visitors to the NCAA March Madness on Demand player during the first four days of the tournament. (2008 totals for the same period: 3.5 million)
  • 6.5 million total hours of live streaming video and audio. (2008 totals for the same period: 3.8 million)
  • 2.5 million clicks on the Boss Button.
  • The Cal. St. Northridge vs. Memphis game in Rd. 1 was the most watched game during the opening weekend.

Feel free to check out the experience yourself and enjoy the tournament!