Why Buying Digital Sucks in 2012: Maybe not? NCAA March Madness Live gets it right. Mostly.

Posted By on Mar 20, 2012 | 0 comments

I’m not a sports fan, with the exception of Minnesota Twins baseball, and even there I don’t watch more than a couple games a year (and hopefully some playoffs). Still I found myself completely compelled to purchase the NCAA March Madness Live streaming service. I will never watch more an a few minutes but I bought it anyway. And here’s why.

  1. It’s 4 bucks! No, really, everything included, just 4 dollars. That’s less than a lot of streaming movies, and way less than the cost of an album. Hell it’s cheaper than a cheeseburger. Most importantly it’s cheaper than cable by a longshot. Sure, I could watch this on broadcast TV, but online I can watch all the games, where TV can only show one at a time.
  2. It’s all-in and cross platform. Watch on your computer via a pretty cool interface that shows you the current game you’re watching along with all the other scores and relevant information. Or watch on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. It’s all included, no extra cost.
  3. It’s remarkably easy. The entire signup and checkout process took me less than five minutes and I was in watching a game. And I wasn’t even at home.

There are some downsides, of course. I can’t watch on my big screen television without hooking up a computer (it doesn’t work with any of the major streaming devices that I know of). And the quality of the video, while quite good on my iPad and computer, was somewhat lacking on Android (might just be my phone).

And the commercials. Oh dear. So many commercials. Normally I’d be really peaved about the commercials, given that I’m paying for the service (Hulu Plus and the New York Times Digital service are the worst), but given the low price point I can at least understand why they are there, even if I don’t like them.

Overall, though, this is exactly what I want out of any streaming service, whether for television, movies, or music. One low price buys me into everything, and I can watch anywhere and everywhere. Easy.

I realize that the streaming equation is heavily weighted on the side of the content owner, and the licensing and laws that make streaming impossible are the very same as the licensing and laws that help guys like me cut through ridiculous cable bills and find a better way. It’s just nice to see the content owners jumping head first into this brave new world instead of fighting it tooth and nail.