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New ‘March Madness Live’ Improves Stream Quality, Adds New ‘Boss Button’ For New WFH World

Jason Gurwin

When we were stuck in our offices, you might remember having to quickly hit the “Boss Button” on the March Madness Live App – that brought up a faux-“Excel” screen. But, with more people working from home, it’s a little easier to hide that you’re streaming March Madness than in years past.

That doesn’t mean the March Madness Live team didn’t have a little fun with it. “It’s gonna get a rebrand. This year it’s going to be the ‘Work From Home’ button. When you select it, you will be dropped into a ‘Zoom’ with some of your favorite mascots,” Turner Sports Director of Product Matt Mullen told The Streamable.

“March Madness Live”, which was completely re-built for March Madness 2021. In the updated app, the action starts with Game Center, the central hub of the NCAA Tournament, providing news, highlights, and “interactive content” for every game of March Madness. They’re also debuting a new tab featuring interactive widgets that will introduce polls, quizzes, alerts, and more.

“We’re offering up higher video quality on our connected TV platforms then we’ve ever done before. We’re almost doubling what our quality is there,” said Mullen. He also said that the stream latency (or delay vs. cable) should be reduced.

The App also adds “Fast Break” which allows for a NFL RedZone-esque channel that will automatically hop around ongoing games, while providing highlights, real-time analysis, social media reaction, and commentary. Also new is “The Catch Up,” which shows you the biggest plays that have happened so far, before jumping into live action. Both Fast Break and The Catch Up were planned for last year’s tournament that was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the features that was dropped in 2021 with the complete re-build was multi-screen, but Turner’s Mullen said, “it’s critical.” With the 2021 schedule having less overlap, it was less important for 2021, but “when we get back to a normal March Madness schedule, it’s something that the fans look forward (to), and something we’re going to provide. Next iteration of this app, we’ll definitely be including multi-view on all the platforms that we can.”

And it might even be different than before, which only had two games side-by-side. Hania Poole, SVP of Digital for Turner Sports, “some of the research we did showed, should we show all four? Should we do two? Should we do three? You’ll see the fruits of that labor next year.”

You can read more about all the new features to March Madness Live here.

When asked how this will help improve other WarnerMedia sports streaming platforms like B/R Live and NBA League Pass, WarnerMedia’s Poole said, “we’re now all on shared technologies and platforms, with a state-of-the-art proprietary video player.” March Madness is going first with some of these new technologies.

“I think what we’re all learning together is what is the role of these experiences…as a companion experience. While our core is video, as we all know that’s the cornerstone…it’s not that the live game experience doesn’t matter any more, but the way people connect with each other inside that experience matters even more. You’re gonna see social across our digital ecosystem play a larger and larger role.”

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