If you're looking for an excuse to buy the new iPad 2 next Friday, how about this: The NCAA will offer free online video streaming for its men's basketball national championship tournament on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch via Wi-Fi and 3G. Called March Madness on Demand (MMOD) the app will be available in the iTunes Store starting March 10 (the day before iPad 2 comes out). MMOD lets you watch every tournament game on your iOS mobile device from the opening whistle on March 15 through the finals on April 4.
If you would prefer to watch the games on your HDTV, the NCAA's March Madness app could still come in handy for finding your local game broadcasts. Using the app's "My Channels" feature you can tap in your ZIP code, choose your cable provider from a list and the app will show you a complete TV schedule for every game. This year's tournament's games will be broadcast on four networks: TBS, TNT, TruTV and CBS.
MMOD will also have live in-game stats through the Game Center view, and social networking tie-ins through the March Madness Social Arena. It's not entirely clear what kind of features the Social Arena will have, but it appears to include Facebook and Twitter integration. You will be able to follow a comment stream from other March Madness fans, news from courtside reports and what the NCAA calls "live social hosts." There will also be a competitive social aspect where you like your favorite teams on Facebook, and then see the results of your picks on a tournament bracket within the app.
The Men's Basketball Division I tournament has been streaming online since 2003. The NCAA first offered a $5 streaming app for iPhone in 2009, and then followed up with an expanded $10 app in 2010. There's no word about similar apps being offered for Android devices, but the NCAA will also stream all March Madness games via its website, mmod.ncaa.com.