-While Jeff Bewkes talks about charging for online video, CBS is once again betting big on the free kind. The network announced today it’s once again opening up its NCAA basketball tournament streaming, allowing other sites to offer the games free of charge. Last year more than 200 sites including Yahoo, ESPN, and Facebook amongst others took advantage, driving 164% user growth for CBS. This year USAToday.com is joining, as well as all the CNET sites that the network recently bought.
CBS’ decision to syndicate games around the Web again, and keep them free, is proof that ad-supported video really can work on the Web. Of course it helps when it’s a hugely popular event aimed at a specific demo (men).
-Amazon.com is quickly emerging as the biggest competitor to Netflix for Web enabled devices that connect to the TV. The latest evidence is that Roku has expanded its digital video players, originally sold for its connection to Netflix, to include Amazon.com. Of course, Amazon’s offerings are rental or download-to-own, as opposed to Netflix’s subscription, making them a nice complement.
While plenty of movie and TV services are available on the Web, Netflix and Amazon are the two that seem to be most aggressively making deals with devices, like Roku, TiVo, and TV manufacturers. Netflix is already on the Xbox 360, as well. The only reason Amazon isn’t on a game console is that Sony and Microsoft are both selling movie and TV downloads themselves.