CBS: 214,560 Online Viewers for LSU-Bama Sets New Record

Turns out we weren’t the only ones sampling CBS Sports’ free online broadcast of the LSU-Alabama game Saturday night: According to the network, the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown attracted what it believes to be the biggest-ever online audience for a college football game, with a total of 214,560 unique viewers through both website and mobile-device application interaction.

“ continues to set the pace in terms of streaming major sports event on multiple platforms,” said Jason Kint, Senior Vice President and General Manager,, in a press release Sunday. “Extending the audience by nearly a quarter of a million viewers during primetime on a Saturday night is quite an accomplishment and the perfect compliment to the CBS Sports broadcast.”

According to CBS, there were 171,648 viewers who watched the game via the website, and another 42,912 viewers who viewed the game via CBS Sports mobile using an app for Apple iOS devices (either an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch). According to CBS, “this number of unique viewers for the LSU/Alabama game is believed to be the largest audience ever to watch a football game through digital platforms.” Though Mobile Sports Report can’t immediately confirm that claim it’s more than likely true given the limited number of big-time events ever being available for free online.

Though Saturday’s event isn’t close to being the biggest online experience for CBS — according to the press release CBS hosted 1,153,981 online viewers of an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game in 2010 (a first-round game between BYU and Florida) — it also helped prove that online viewers don’t necessarily take away from a regular-broadcast audience, since the TV part of the broadcast earned the network’s second-highest rating since September of 1987. According to CBS the game had an 11.9/21 Nielsen rating.

And while the game might not have lived up to its No. 1 vs. No. 2 hype the expected online audience certainly did, and should mean that we may see more such events toward the end of the year and into college bowl season. Bookmark Mobile Sports Report to stay informed about any future online NCAA football broadcasts.


  1. Alex Norris says

    While the streaming numbers for this game were fantastic, and a good indication that things continue to head towards the internet as a major distribution platform for live content, it was FAR from the most-watched stream of a college football game.

    Last season’s national championship was streamed by over 619,000 unique viewers through

    • But ESPN3 is not really a true Internet stream, since you must have a compatible cable contract to view it… correct?

      Either way don’t you think neither record will stand for long? Bet that anything online this year will swamp it.

      • Alex Norris says

        That is correct regarding ESPN3, it does require your ISP to subscribe, similar in concept to a cable channel’s carriage fee (with some exceptions, such as anyone visiting from a .edu or .mil address can view for free).

        I’m unsure what you mean by “true” internet stream — the video was delivered, live, over the internet in both cases. If anything, I think the fact that ESPN3’s service is authenticated makes the number *more* impressive, because you have to think there were surely others who would like to have watched online who couldn’t. However, if you’re saying the numbers aren’t comparable because of that setup, wouldn’t the same be true of comparing CBS and ESPN’s traditional Nielsen ratings, as one needs cable to view ESPN?

        I absolutely do think those numbers will be demolished in short order, but they’re very positive indicators that there is a serious demand for innovation in this space. Give it another 5-10 years, and things will likely get *really* interesting.

  2. Alex, I think I would have to now agree with your logic… it is more impressive that an ESPN3 broadcast had more viewers since the available pool of potential viewers was smaller. We’ll have to run those older numbers past the CBS folks and see what they say.

    And I also agree with you that there is serious demand already and a need for more innovation. ESPN needs to listen to its Disney bosses who have been saying for several years now that online doesn’t take away from broadcast viewers and open up things like ESPN3 to everyone. And put more content online (currently you can’t see a lot of ESPN shows on any archive which seems crazy to me). They will get there… someday. Resistance is futile. đŸ™‚

    • Alex Norris says

      I believe they get a small amount of money from the deals with ISPs on a per subscriber basis, similar to the traditional cable TV model — like it or not, I don’t imagine they’ll abandon that dual income stream any time soon. I’d love to see some more of the studio shows archived, for sure.


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