Bandwidth demand straining college budgets

Many schools keep a close eye on bandwidth usage during major collegiate sporting events, particularly the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, or March Madness, when students stream live contests on their various mobile devices.

There were 26.7 million unique visitors to the NCAA March Madness Live online streaming service in 2011, according to a report from Turner Sports Media, up from only 2 million viewers in 2007. Viewers streamed more than 10 million hours of online video during last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Viewers watching March Madness games on an Apple iPhone or iPad accounted for 36 percent of all live streaming, according to the NCAA. All this while TV viewership jumped 15 percent in 2011.

Student expectations of instantaneous and uninterrupted streaming of sporting events has largely driven the constant need for more bandwidth capacity on U.S. campuses, said Edward Tracey, the University of Detroit’s associate vice president for IT

“Everyone expects everything to be taped and made available to view online,” he said. “And as the fishbowl grows bigger, the fish get bigger.”

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