Broadband video company Joost is extending its video-on-demand service to cover live events. The CBS network, which is an investor in Joost, is making available its coverage of the March Madness basketball championship through the platform. Joost has been testing its live streaming capability through technical trials in preparation.

Joost has invited users to participate in a test of its live streaming by watching a webcast by some of the members of its technical team.

“We expect (and kind of hope) things will go wrong but that’s the only way we’ll find out where the problems are,” said Joost in its announcement. “When you’re testing any new technology, especially one as complex as live P2P streaming, you expect a number of failures, but in order to get a product or service that works seamlessly, you have to break it first in order to find all the bugs and troubleshoot effectively.”

Joost has been getting a rough ride recently, perhaps unable to live up to users expectations with its moribund mélange of mostly mediocre programming. It will come under even more pressure with the official launch of Hulu, the online video portal backed by NBC.

Live coverage of March Madness could inject a new sense of excitement into Joost. The college basketball tournament organised by the NCAA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is a big deal in the United States and is televised nationally by CBS.

Providing coverage of the March Madness matches on Joost is not necessarily the coup that it might appear, as they are also freely available to view online through the NCAA web site.

Free online coverage of the games has previously established record numbers of simultaneous streams, although to date it has only been possible to support a few hundred thousand connections.

The ability to support a much larger number of online viewers will be a real test for Joost. Matt Zelesko, the new head of engineering at Joost, is already managing expectations. He has advised basketball fans with money on the games not to depend on the Joost coverage, saying: “we expect it will probably break.”