March Madness Live 2014: new apps, redesigned brackets and more social features

It's about that time again. That time for NCAA Division I schools to battle it out on the court during the month of March, all in search of men's basketball glory. Naturally, the NCAA, in partnership with CBS and Turner Sports, couldn't have kicked things off without revamping its beloved March Madness Live, both on the desktop and mobile apps. For the most part, however, the streaming service remains largely unchanged -- and we'd say that's a good thing. That said, there are a few new things coming to March Madness Live this year, such as apps for Kindle Fire, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 (we'll come back to the latter two in a bit).

Most notably, the bracket section has been redesigned across all platforms. This means you'll now see the inclusion of team logos; and the ability to pinch to zoom within, which can either bring up info on specific games or show the entire tournament schedule, depending on your finger movement. A news section is also being added in 2014, with articles and videos emerging from the NCAA website. MML's Senior Director Product and Operations, Hania Poole, told us how social networks were key factors to consider while everything was in development. As such, Social Arena is a huge part of the desktop and mobile experience; #MarchMadness will be used during streams to show what people are sharing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine.

March Madness Live 2014 worked and looked great when we checked it out. Things like the freshly minted news section are a nice addition for hoops lovers to have, right alongside the live games, real-time stats, an improved Boss button and, of course, their brackets. Unfortunately, the Windows applications aren't on par with those on iOS and Android, missing out on a number of tidbits -- namely, bracket pinch-to-zoom and some social features. Video feed is present, though, so we have a hunch not too many folks will mind.

The tournament starts on the 18th of this month, and all live games will be accessible with a subscription to one of the many participating cable companies. Broadcasts by CBS, on the other hand, won't require any sort of authentication, as has been the case in years past. You can get a better feel for March Madness Live 2014, which begins rolling out today, in the video below. And hey, let us known in the comments who you're hoping is the last team standing come April 7th.

Daniel Orren contributed to this report.