March Madness starts this week in America, and for the rest of the month millions of basketball fans will watch the country’s college teams dunk on each other, until the final of the men’s national championship on April 3rd. CBS, a broadcast-television network, has shown the event since 1982 — but this year it is conducting an experiment. As well as broadcasting the games on TV, it is streaming them live over the internet free of charge, accompanied by advertisements. CBS’s move is one of many recent efforts by traditional media companies to try to develop ‘new media’ revenue streams. Music firms have sold their material online for a while. Newspaper and magazine publishers are busy trying to attract readers on the internet. But now the world’s largest entertainment companies are rushing to distribute their video content online and, to a lesser extent, to the users of mobile phones. Old media companies are also snapping up internet firms as fast as they can. Most of these are profitable, in contrast to the dotcoms of a few years ago — but only just. On March 6th NBC Universal, a media firm owned by General Electric, spent $600m on iVillage, […]

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