The customer chooses


Television ratings for the NCAA tourney were down heading into the Final Four, but internet traffic was up. Some of the teevee falloff is attributed to the absence from the tourney of particular schools with sizable fan-bases, but I'm guessing that many fans are using the new-found freedom provided by the net to watch what they want to watch instead of what CBS wanted to show them on the tube.

Me, for example.

In late March, I found myself in Colorado for my kids' spring break, where we discovered to our horror that in some places in this country not every minute of every game involving the North Carolina Tar Heels is shown to the viewing public. Sometimes CBS cuts away just because the Heels are up 20 and another game is closer -- as if we don't want to watch the scrubs get some playing time. And sometimes they don't show the Carolina game at all.

Weird, I know.

Anyway, this year we could watch any game we wanted, in its entirety, at the CBS site or the NCAA site. So there we were, apres ski in the condo, with our laptops fired up and our team on the run (a run that came to an inglorious end on Saturday night).

I would guess my family was far from alone in taking advantage of the kind of customer choice that the net makes possible, and that the online numbers will continue to grow in the future -- probably at the expense of television ratings, as online presentation improves in quality.

(I also found it satisfying to follow some day games via ESPN's game-tracker, which made it easier to stay in the office instead of running home to watch on television.)


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