TV Everywhere: Streaming the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is one of my favorite events of the year, no matter who is playing for the Vince Lombardi trophy. It’s simply a great time to catch up with old friends while over-indulging in fattening foods and alcoholic beverages. This year all my buds will gather around my 13-inch laptop to watch the big game streaming online. If guests can’t see well enough, they can load it up on their smartphones. 


All right, wherever I end up going to watch the Super Bowl will probably feature the game on a flat-panel HDTV, sent there via cable or satellite. But if I wanted to, the option is there to stream the big game on either or (NBC’s coverage, that is – I’m sure you also can find a stream where some yokel films his TV screen and adds color commentary). NBC has been simulcasting Sunday night football games for a few years now, and we’ll also stream some playoff games. In addition, the Verizon Wireless will be able to stream the game through the NFL’s mobile app.


But why on Earth would I watch the biggest football game of the year online? It’s hard to imagine the kind of convoluted situation that would result in a person having no other option but their smartphone for viewing the Super Bowl. However, through added controls on the screen, NBC and the NFL are actually pushing toward the multiscreen crowd. 


“By adding multiple camera angles, HD-quality video, DVR controls along with social interactivity, our online streaming represents a compelling, second-screen experience that nicely complements NBC’s on-air presentation,” said Rick Cordella of NBC Sports Digital Media.


More and more fans are accessing real-time stats and other features over Internet-connected devices during games. The NFL and NBC are playing directly to that group, throwing in neat-o features such control over camera angles, the ability to hit the highlight reel whenever you get bored and being able to cycle back after missing a set of downs because of issues with Jim-Bob’s chili. And the social media integration is nice as well for connecting with football fans the world over. and are aiming to be the hubs of second-screen interaction revolving around the game.


The advertising perspective gets very interesting. Without going into too much detail, NBC said that ads during the stream will be different than the infamous 30-second television spots that run $3 million a pop. You can bet NBC is not going to jeopardize its advertiser relationships by selling the competitors of those TV advertisers online spots at a cheaper rate.


No, this opens the door to serving targeted ads (geo comes to mind immediately) complementing the ones up on the big screen – these could feature various calls to action, even coupons then and there (Denny’s grand-slam breakfast, anyone?). It’s the multiscreen advertising dream.


It’s pretty amazing that the biggest annual television event in the world is going to be streaming online – it says a lot about the importance of Internet streaming video, and shows that that NBC and the NFL are on top of multiscreen viewing trends. But I’m also curious about the future here.


I cut the cable long ago and only watch TV programs through Internet streaming. I’ve also done this with sporting events such as college basketball through ESPN 3. So watching the Super Bowl on my laptop (with my laptop hooked into the television) doesn’t seem that far-fetched – especially if the stream offered a more engaging experience. But then again, that might distract me from my friend Brenda’s amazing seven-layer dip…


All joking aside, what kind of advertising will the growing masses of cord cutters receive when it comes to major events, and how will it be targeted and served? Seems like there’s plenty of room opening up for innovation.