SBD/February 8, 2012/Media

Live Online Stream Of Super Bowl Draws Record Number Of Users With Over 2 Million

NBC's Super Bowl stream audience was 10 times typical number of "SNF" online viewers
Sunday's online stream of Super Bowl XLVI drew 2.1 million unique users, setting a new record for the largest audience for a single-game sports event shown on the Internet. The online draw, coupled with an all-time audience mark for the televised feed of the game, caps a historic week for NBC Sports. Much like March Madness on Demand and other major sports events with mutli-platform distribution, the online audience for the Super Bowl also served as further proof that fears of audience cannibalization are overstated. "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," said NBC Sports Senior VP/Business Development and Managing Dir of NBC Sports Digital Kevin Monaghan. The prior highwater marks for a specific sports event online had been 1.153 million unique users for a BYU-Florida game during the '10 NCAA men's basketball tournament and nearly 1.1 million uniques on ESPN3 for the U.S.-Algeria '10 FIFA World Cup match. Both of those events were on weekdays and driven heavily by at-work audiences. The Super Bowl audience was also as much as 10 times the 200,000-300,000 viewers typically watching "Sunday Night Football" online. Engagement on the Super Bowl feed averaged more than 39 minutes per visit, and overall, NBCSports.com streamed 78.6 million minutes of Super Bowl content. The online stream was accessible on both NFL.com and NBCSports.com, both of which routed to an NBCSports.com-supported video player. Network and league execs declined to specify how much referral traffic each site generated (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Brian Stelter noted despite some complaints from users, NBC "deemed the stream to be a success" (NYTIMES.com, 2/7). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes it is "hard to believe broadcasters used to worry that streaming live sports online might cannibalize the TV audiences they pay huge rights fees to attract." The pattern is that "big events online draw crowds, but not like their bigger-screen brethren" (USA TODAY, 2/8).

BAD SURF CONDITIONS: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Todd Spangler cited a study by network-equipment maker Sandvine which indicated that with 111 million Americans "tuning in to Sunday's Super Bowl on TV, overall Internet usage in the U.S. declined as much as 20% on Feb. 5 compared with an average Sunday, even with NBC's debut of the first legal online video feed of the game." NBC's online stream "accounted for 6.2% of all downstream broadband traffic in the U.S." at 9:00pm ET Sunday (MULTICHANNEL.com, 2/7).

TUNING IN TO RADIO: Dial Global announced yesterday that 23.1 million people tuned in for the Super Bowl XLVI radio broadcast. Dial Global commissioned the study from Edison Research (THE DAILY).
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