For the first time, this Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast will be made available to watch through streaming media players like the Roku, Apple TV, and Xbox One. As reported by Variety and other outlets, CBS has opted to expand its free live stream beyond just the company's website and make it available to standalone players via the CBS Sports app. And, unlike previous years in which many of the most popular commercials weren't aired in the streaming feed, all of this year's national commercials will be included in the feed. Enjoy the game, cord-cutters!
The playing field may look familiar to the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers when they meet February 7 during Super Bowl 50, but the network broadcasting the event will face a new set of circumstances in its quest to deliver the game to millions of people across the nation.
For the first time in the half-century old history of this landmark media event, the Super Bowl, one of TV's most-watched events, will be available to the widest possible swath of viewers who don't watch traditional television.
Since NBC broadcast Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, the gridiron classic has been offered to people who wished to stream it on a desktop, laptop or tablet, largely through the presenting network's own digital properties. In 2016, however, Super Bowl 50 will be seen by people who use connected-TV devices including Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. Amazon Fire is also likely to carry the event, said Marc DeBevoise, executive vice president and general manager of CBS Digital Media, in an interview. Streaming coverage is also offered to Verizon customers on phones through NFL Mobile. In another first, all the ads that accompany the game will be live-streamed in the digi-casts as well.
The move is seen by some as a bid to keep up with modern audiences. "The NFL is losing that cadre of younger viewers that are vital to broadcasters and advertisers," said Jim O'Neill, principal analyst at Ooyala, a digital analytics firm. "Where are they going? All the research points to millennials going online, and especially to mobile devices."
The audience for live sports streamed in new fashion is growing. CBS said its streaming coverage of this past Sunday's AFC Championship game between the Broncos and the New England Patriots set records, with triple-digit growth in viewers and minutes streamed compared to last year's AFC Championship game. More than 1.2 million unique viewers consumed more than 89 million total minutes of coverage across laptops, desktops, connected TV devices, tablets, and mobile phones, with viewers watching for more than 69 minutes each on average.
With new-tech viewership on the rise, so too is advertiser interest. This Super Bowl will be the first in which digital extensions are being embraced by all the sponsors, not just a handful. Last year, just 18 of more than 70 Super Bowl advertisers chose to put their commercials online for NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX. In selling this year's game, CBS required all sponsors to run ads in the digital stream as well as the TV broadcast. "The marketplace just accepted us," said John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales and marketing at CBS. "It was not a huge issue. People readily accepted buying both platforms at the same time."
To read the complete Variety report, click here.