As reported earlier today by the New York Times, over 2.1 million people watched a streaming version of Super Bowl XLVI through the Internet on Sunday according to measurements conducted by two separate research organizations. Representatives at NBC believe that this is the largest amount of people to watch any single sporting event through an online, streaming source. This also marks the first time that any network has simultaneously broadcast the Super Bowl through the Internet while the game was simultaneously being broadcast on television. Netflix also saw its share of streaming traffic decrease during the game as the Super Bowl made up approximately 6.2% of all downstream broadband traffic in the United States.
While two million people is a sizable audience, streaming fans made up a paltry 1.8 percent of the 111.3 million network television viewers of the football game. NBC also broadcasts its Monday Night Football game every week, but typically gets an average of 300,000 streaming viewers per game. According to NBC, the 2.1 million online viewers watched a total of 4.59 million streams of the game. It’s likely that viewers stopped the stream during halftime and restarted during the last half of the game. NBC also mentioned that 1.83 million clips of the game were watched online and a total of 78.6 million minutes of streaming video was consumed by the public.
However, many users reported delays in the stream when compared to the action on television as well as video stuttering issues according to The Atlantic. Users had connection difficulties as well as quality issues when attempting to access the stream as well. NBC also sells advertisements for Web streams separately from television ads. While a handful of advertising campaigns were played on both the television broadcast and the stream, the majority of streaming ads repeated continuously and streaming viewers missed out on the most entertaining ad placements on the main broadcast. In addition, people watching the streaming version of the broadcast were not able to see Madonna perform at the halftime show.
Tim Siglin at Streaming Media posted an extremely detailed analysis of NBC’s streaming version of the Super Bowl and called it similar to “Tim Tebow’s early season” performance. As mentioned in the report, the public was limited to watching the stream on a Verizon mobile device or through a computer capable of using Microsoft’s Silverlight. Siglin noted several points where the quality of the video fluctuated during key points in the game and pointed out the cluttered display of the Web version. On personal computers, streaming viewers also had to look at a list of Super Bowl commercials at the bottom of the screen, advertisements on the right and bottom portion of the screen as well as a stream of recent tweets about the game.
Twitter was extremely popular during Super Bowl XLVI and far outpaced the 4,064 tweets per second during the fourth quarter of last year’s game. During the final moments of Sunday’s game, Twitter counted 12,233 tweets per second. This breaks the record for the most tweets of at any English language event over the past six years. The previous record was held by the January 8 Denver Broncos overtime playoff win. In addition, Madonna’s performance at the halftime show racked up approximately 10,245 posts per second. Trendrr, a social measurement firm, counted approximately 15 million Twitter messages related to the Super Bowl this year. This constitutes a significant jump over the three million from last year’s Super Bowl.
NBC is expected to continue pushing forward with streaming broadcasts for all televised sporting events and streaming broadcasts will return with Monday Night Football when the next NFL season begins later this year. This was also the first year that the NFL setup a “social media command center” to handle social traffic on Twitter and Facebook.