CBS Sells Out of Online March Madness Inventory

CBS says it has sold out its ad inventory for March Madness On Demand, its upcoming live streaming of all 64 games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“There is no inventory left,” said Jason Kint, svp and general manager. “I will still take advertisers’ calls, but I’m not sure what else we could sell at this point.”

Kint said that despite a still-tough economy, the ad market had improved versus last year when the network took in close to $30 million in additional online ad revenue for MMOD. According to Kint, more advertisers have signed on this year versus last, including both brands that are advertising during CBS’s broadcast coverage of the tournament and several Web-only advertisers.

For this year’s tournament Coke and AT&T are returning as charter MMOD sponsors, though previous sponsor Pontiac has been replaced this year by Capital One.

Though Kint declined to discuss specific dollar figures, he said that he expected ad revenue to exceed last year’s high-water mark for MMOD. “There is not a lot of scarcity on the Web,” Kint said. “But when you are talking about live video that is DVR-proof, there is a ton of scarcity. This is a great case study for cross-platform selling. The NCAA tournament is unique—our success comes from when TV is not available.”

Besides Web streaming, CBS is once again delivering live games to Apple iPhone and iTouch devices via a premium MMOD application. This year the MMOD app runs for $9.99 (up from $4.99 last year)—but the app works on both 3G and EDGE and networks (last year’s app only ran via Wi-Fi). CBS also offers a free “lite” app, which features video highlights, news updates and scores from tournament games.