The stats are in and as expected, the live Internet streaming of Sunday’s Super Bowl game was by far the biggest online audience ever for a sporting event with 2.1 million unique viewers, according to a press release from the NFL.
Broadcast both on the NBC Sports website as well as to smartphones via Verizon Wireless’s NFL Mobile app, the online showing of Super Bowl XLVI racked up some impressive numbers, according to the NFL:
Online Traffic Data
Unique Users – 2,105,441 (live stream online)
Live Video Streams – 4,589,593 (live stream online)
Total Minutes Streamed – 78,624,422
On-Demand Clips – 1,838,812 VOD clips viewed
User-Generated Camera Switches – 1,835,676
Engagement – More than 39 minutes per visit.
Verizon Wireless also confirmed that the Super Bowl was the “most viewed” game on the NFL Mobile platform all season (what a surprise!) but the company’s weak press release didn’t reveal any actual numbers. We’ve asked Verizon PR for more info but have not gotten a reply as of yet.
We also find it hard to agree with the canned quotes in the NFL’s release from Kevin Monaghan, senior vice president, business development & managing director digital media, NBC Sports Group, who claimed the online show lived up to fans’ expectations. This fan for one didn’t like the fact that the online show was 3 to 4 plays behind the TV show, making it nearly impossible to use as a “second screen” device since it was so far behind what was happening in front of you. Monaghan had a different view, according to his quotes in the press release:
“Increasingly, sports fans are looking to digital coverage as a complementary ‘second screen’ experience, and we delivered on that promise with unprecedented robust coverage. The record traffic that grew throughout the event, as well as the record high engagement numbers, underscores the complementary aspect of digital as an enhancement to our exceptional television coverage.”
With no way to question Monaghan (we tried tweeting @NBCSportsPR asking why the broadcasts were so far apart but got no reply) we’ll just have to stomp our digital feet a little bit louder to hope for a closer sync in the future. And others around the web didn’t think too much of the limited screen choices and sometimes skippy transition process — and the fact that getting Silverlight installed on a Chrome browser for a Mac was a chore (we got it done on the laptop Sunday but it took two tries because the download screen hung the first time).
But all in all those are some small problems to what will likely be viewed as a watershed moment in sports broadcast history, when we all switched from thinking, “Wow, cool, it’s online — I never expected that!” to something more like “how many different online options to watch do I have?” Especially since Sunday’s TV broadcast was the latest Super Bowl to win the “most watched program ever” award with 111.3 million viewers, it’s obvious that having an online choice — even one that attracts 2.1 million viewers — doesn’t detract from the live TV audience.
For all other promoters the question now becomes: What are you going to do to get your event online, and to make it more competent than the Super Bowl? Getting the broadcast at least close to the same time as live TV would be a start.