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How is the internet changing March Madness?

SB Nation Editor in Chief Elena Bergeron talks about brackets, streaming apps and paying players on the latest Too Embarrassed to Ask.

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Villanova’s Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree defends Radford’s Ed Polite Jr. in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Rob Carr / Getty Images

The 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, is an annual tradition for sports fans around the U.S. — and if you’re one of those fans, your options have never been better.

“Tech has really enabled the over-the-top fandom around this,” SB Nation Editor in Chief Elena Bergeron said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. “In previous years, if you had the CBS partnership — the rights to actually air the games — CBS was in control of what games it aired, on one broadcast network. Especially in the first weekend, when there are 64 teams, there are games going on simultaneously every day.”

“If you’re watching the wrong game, you’re going to miss the crazy Cinderella moment, the last-minute shot,” she added. “What technology has enabled everybody to do is, CBS now shares those rights across their networks and with TBS. Everyone is streaming these games on apps and there are live look-ins on ‘the good game.’”

On the new podcast, Bergeron talked about her tips for what sites have the best online brackets, how online streaming services are going to change all sports (not just basketball) and why she uses Twitter, but not Facebook, during March Madness games.

“Twitter, you use as a second-screen experience,” she said. “As games are going on in real time — this game that you think is not gonna be a very good game, ‘oh my God, it’s the last minute and this 2-seed is about to be upset!’ That’s how we’re finding out about a lot of stuff.”

You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Bergeron also talked about a debate that gains steam this time every year: Given how lucrative March Madness is for colleges and broadcasters, why doesn’t the NCAA pay its players? Bergeron said the easiest solution would be to not try and pay players based on performance, as in the pros, but instead to give every athlete a modest cut of the profits.

“What you find is that’s mostly what the players are asking for: ‘I need some money to get me through this college experience,’” she said. “The NCAA has a fund right now that’s sort of like an emergency fund for players, like if there’s a death in the family and they need to travel. There is a procedure through which you can protest the NCAA and say, ‘Release these funds to me.’ They just want better access to that stuff.”

“If you could articulate, ‘Hey, if you’re a college athlete in a major sport, you get $1,000 over the course of the year,’ I think that would go a long way to people saying, ‘Hey, at least you’re revenue-sharing with the players,” Bergeron added.

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