This year’s March Madness, formally known as the NCAA Tournament Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, will garner nearly 18 million hours of streaming video consumption through online and mobile apps, according to calculations made by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA).

The forecast of 17,786,648 total hours of streaming video would represent a 29.8 percent increase over last year, when fans watched 13.7 million total hours of streaming video through CBS’s March Madness on Demand service online and via iPad and iPhone apps.

One significant change from then could affect the 2012 prediction, however – this year the MMOD service costs a one-time price of $3.99 to watch all 67 games of the tournament live. The IIA cautions that it has not factored this in to its assumptions, which can be perused in detail here.

The updated version of the app also lets users check scores, fill out and follow their bracket, get game alerts and (new this year) listen to live game radio.

“Americans now rely on the Internet for everything from entertainment to educational resources, improved health care, civic participation and jobs – and, every day, more consumers are accessing this content from their wireless devices,” said Jamal Simmons, IIA co-chairman. “Since the last time telecommunications law was overhauled in 1996, the wireless industry has grown in unimaginable ways. Smart management of spectrum – the limited, vital resource that enables the mobility of your laptop, cellphone and tablet – is crucial to continued innovation. Policymakers should recognize that their decisions will greatly impact the future of this dynamic field, not unduly interfere with market players moving to meet the demands of consumers and allow wireless users to drive the decisions.”

Related links: