NEW YORK — Some fans will no longer be able to watch every NCAA men's basketball tournament game online for free.
The model for streaming March Madness will change this year, Turner, CBS and the NCAA announced Thursday. Games aired on CBS will still be free through the network's Web site. Most, but not all, viewers who get TBS, TNT and truTV on their cable or satellite systems will be able to watch games aired on those channels online at no cost.
Fans can also pay $3.99 to see every game on multiple platforms — online, mobile and tablet.
About 77 million households will be able to watch the Turner channels for free online through a process called authentication. That's out of the 100 million that get TBS and TNT, which are available in around 87 percent of American homes with televisions.
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The way fans watch March Madness on TV changed drastically last season with the start of CBS and Turner's 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with the NCAA. Instead of CBS showing regional coverage and switching among games, each contest aired nationally in its entirety on one of the four networks. The shift was a hit: Viewership was up 14 percent for the tournament's opening weekend.
As for the previous five years, fans could also see every game for free online. They watched 13.7 million hours of streaming video online and through mobile devices, a 17 percent increase from 2010.
Turner Sports senior vice president Matthew Hong said he hopes that by 2013, all customers who get the Turner networks through their providers will be able to authenticate.