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Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox drew the largest audience in U.S. TV history despite the Seahawks’ blowout win over the Broncos on Sunday. The game averaged a 46.7 final rating and 112.5 million viewers, passing the viewership mark set by the Giants-Patriots in ’12 on NBC, which had 111.3 million viewers. Three of the last four Super Bowls have set new a U.S. TV viewership record. The 46.7 rating marks the seventh-highest-rated Super Bowl on record.TOP 10 MOST-VIEWED SUPER BOWLSYEARSUPER BOWLNETWORKRATINGVIEWERS (000)MATCHUP'14XLVIIIFox46.7112,500Seahawks-Broncos'12XLVINBC47.0111,346Giants-Patriots'11XLVFox46.0111,010Packers-Steelers'13XLVIICBS46.3108,414Ravens-49ers'10XLIVCBS45.0106,476Saints-Colts'09XLIIINBC42.098,732Steelers-Cardinals'08XLIIFox43.197,448Giants-Patriots'96XXXNBC46.094,080Cowboys-Steelers'07XLICBS42.693,184Colts-Bears'86XXNBC48.392,570Bears-PatriotsTOP 10 HIGHEST-RATED SUPER BOWLSYEARSUPER BOWLNETWORKRATINGVIEWERS (000)MATCHUP'82XVICBS49.185,24049ers-Bengals'83XVIINBC48.681,770Redskins-Dolphins'86XXNBC48.392,570Bears-Patriots'78XIICBS47.278,940Cowboys-Broncos'79XIIINBC47.174,740Steelers-Cowboys'12XLVINBC47.0111,346Giants-Patriots'14XLVIIIFox46.7112,500Seahawks-Broncos'85XIXABC46.485,53049ers-Dolphins'84XVIIICBS46.477,620Raiders-Redskins'13XLVIICBS46.3108,414Ravens-49ers'80XIVCBS46.376,240Steelers-Rams
CAREFUL WITH EARLY NUMBERS: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote initial reports stating that the Super Bowl viewership was down shows that overnight Nielsen data is "effectively meaningless when it comes to assessing the performance of a live, nationwide sports broadcast." There wer several reports that Seahawks-Broncos "drew just 96.9 million viewers -- a variance of 14.6 million viewers" compared to the fast-national data (ADWEEK.com, 2/3). When several sources were prematurely running with the 96.9 million figure yesterday, Fox Sports Senior VP/Communications Lou D'Ermilio tweeted, "Non time zone adjusted fast nat'ls are going to start creeping out. Not accurate for # . Folks need to wait for fast nationals we issue." He then added, "Every audience figure out there now is based on faulty math, non time zone adjusted figures or guesswork. Please be patient" (TWITTER.com, 2/3).
AN UNTOUCHABLE PRODUCT: CAPITAL NEW YORK's Alex Weprin wrote Sunday's ratings "continue to show that the Super Bowl is a juggernaut unlike anything else on TV." Weprin: "While most broadcast programming is losing viewers in an increasingly fragmented video landscape, football -- and the Super Bowl in particular -- remain untouched by the changes happening in the rest of the media industry" (CAPITALNEWYORK.com, 2/3). The N.Y. Times' Bill Carter on his Twitter feed wrote, "Game set new audience record despite lack of excitement -- again underscores power of live programming. Globes up; Grammy's up" (TWITTER.com, 2/3).
GLUED TO THE TUBE: In Seattle, Bob Condotta notes the game "drew the largest share for a TV sports event in Seattle history, with an estimated 2.5 million local viewers tuned in." The game had a 56.7 rating "in the greater Seattle area." By comparison, the Seahawks' loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL eight years ago drew a 54.4 local rating, while the NFC Championship Game win over the 49ers two weeks ago had a 53.9 local rating. Super Bowl XLVIII "did not chart the highest rating for any Seattle sporting event." That belongs to the '95 Mariners-Yankees ALDS Game 5, which drew a 62.4 local rating as the Mariners won to clinch their first postseason series (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/4). Meanwhile, in Denver, Dusty Saunders notes the game "produced the Broncos' highest audience share of the season -- 85.7," with the highest quarter hour from 5:30-5:45pm MT (DENVER POST, 2/4).
SOCIAL STUDIES: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Hilary Lewis noted more than 24.9 million tweets "about the game and halftime show were sent, beating the 24.1 million tweets" sent during last year's Super Bowl. On Facebook, 50 million people had "more than 185 million interactions related to the Super Bowl." The top three moments on both Twitter and Facebook "were the same: Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin opening the second half with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which had 381,605 tweets per minute; Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse scoring a third-quarter touchdown to extend Seattle's lead, which had 271,775 tweets per minute; and Broncos QB Peyton Manning throwing a pick-six toward the end of the second quarter, which had 244,889 tweets per minute." Meanwhile, TiVo said that the most rewatched moment "was the bad snap on the opening drive that led to a Seahawks safety." TiVo also found that viewership for the halftime show "exceeded that of the overall game" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 2/3).
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Super Bowl XLVIII was the second most-watched Super Bowl on record in Canada, with an average audience of 8 million viewers on CTV and RDS. The game attracted more than 18 million unique viewers on the nets. Super Bowl XLVI in '12 featuring Giants-Patriots attracted 8.2 million viewers in Canada (Bell Media). Meanwhile, see SBD Global for what the game did on German television.
After an outage caused some L.A.-area customers to miss part of Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII broadcast, Time Warner Cable yesterday announced it would "provide a $5 gift card to subscribers who don’t have digital cable and could only watch the game on a standard definition channel," according to Carla Hall of the L.A. TIMES. However, even subscribers "who have digital TV -- the majority -- and so watched the game on a high-definition channel get something: credit for the cost of an on-demand movie once it is purchased." Hall notes not only did viewers "miss a chunk of the second and third quarters, they missed the halftime show." However, service was "restored in time for them to see a commercial from Time Warner boasting of soon-to-be enhanced service." Subscribers "railed at the self-promotion." One subscriber wrote on TWC's Facebook page, "You cannot be serious posting this right now. Good lord, tone deaf much?" (L.A. TIMES, 2/4). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth reports TWC's Southern California subscribers yesterday "continued to spitefully vent" about losing the feed during the Super Bowl. Sources and experts said that "likely only a small percentage" watching the game on KTTV-Fox' "somewhat-outdated standard definition signal were actually affected." But the fact that "anyone had to read a message 'signal currently unavailable' frozen on their flatscreens ... was enough to cause random chaos." TWC Dir of PR for the Western U.S. Dennis Johnson confirmed that the "cause of the problem was a piece of equipment that processes video signals," and the company was "still looking into all aspects of why it happened" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/4).
ANOTHER LITTLE PROBLEM: L.A. was not the only market impacted by a loss of the Super Bowl feed. Viewers in Little Rock, Ark., "lost eight minutes of what would normally be prime Super Bowl viewing" when KLRT-Fox' "transmitter lost power" (MEDIABISTRO.com, 2/3).
Fox Sports said it averaged 528,000 viewers per minute for its live stream of Super Bowl XLVIII, a 4% jump over the average audience for last year’s Super Bowl stream and a new record for the most-watched live stream of a single sports event in the U.S. Users spent an average of 47.8 minutes watching the stream, 25% higher than the 38.1 minute average for Super Bowl XLVII. Fox has not yet released figures for its total unique users for the stream or total minutes consumed on the stream, metrics released in prior years by CBS and NBC. The net instead is aiming to place focus on the average minute audience metric also commonly used in television. However, network officials said they were pleased with user reception for its much more simplified approach to Super Bowl streaming. “What we did was a high-quality stream without a lot of bells and whistles and our audience was highly engaged,” said Fox Sports Digital Senior VP Pete Vlastelica. “What we’ve seen is that most people just want to have a live stream they can run full screen, so that was the focus.” Similar to TV viewing patterns for Sunday’s game, the live stream peaked with an audience of 1.1 million concurrent users early in the third quarter, long after the outcome of the game was essentially decided. Fox streamed the game online, a review of which can be seen in today's issue of THE DAILY, and through its dedicated mobile application Fox Sports Go.
During Super Bowl Sunday and the week prior, I reviewed Fox Sports’ TV Everywhere mobile app, Fox Sports Go. "Minimalist approach" is the phrase I would use to describe this experience, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Fox Sports Go was developed in-house with the support of several vendors. I conducted the review on an iPad 2 version 7.0.4 with Xfinity cable service. Fox Sports Go offers a clean, easy-to-view, mobile version of Fox TV channels for the iPad. With Xfinity, I was able to log in with my cable subscription credentials and view Fox and FS1 all week. For a 27-hour period beginning at midnight on Sunday, the app was available authentication-free and also included Fox Deportes and FS2. Prior to the Super Bowl stream, there were no commercials within the app. The game stream did have commercials -- both on Fox Sports and Fox Deportes, but these were not the same as live TV.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE: The app’s layout is basic yet effective. A channel menu lives on the left side of the screen and programming is listed by time. Content offerings can be viewed for all channels or individual channels, and listings are available for up to three days of programming. Live shows are denoted with orange play icons. During the Super Bowl, the app featured the same layout. There were no issues with functionality, and all channels rendered well on my device.
ROOM FOR GROWTH: According to Fox, the present version of the mobile app is focused on content. Phase two will center around features. That said, I was surprised to see so little advertising, especially during the Super Bowl. I would have expected some sort of integrated ad feature. In addition, there are neither sharing tools nor any social media presence within the app. With Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining the halftime show, an integrated Twitter feed would have generated a lot of buzz for Fox Sports Go.
BOTTOM LINE: As far as TV Everywhere goes, this app offers a very straightforward, functional product. The viewing experience is simple and enjoyable, lacking stumbling blocks for viewers. While some might argue that basic is best, the app definitely has room for improvement. A more searchable programming menu along with user customization and social sharing tools are just a few of the items on my list of hopefuls for phase two.
Amie Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.
See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
- X Games For iPhone Goes Big With Features, But Usability Can Improve
- Bleacher Report Team Stream Engages The User With News, Social
- Golf Channel For iPhone Offers Basic, Text-Heavy Content
- The Year's Best From The Four Major Pro Leagues
- Yahoo Sports For iPhone Goes All-In On Scores And Stats, With No Video
NBCUniversal is "rolling out a revised Olympics game plan" for the Sochi Games, which begin Thursday, that brings the net "up to speed with the fast-changing media world," according to David Cohen of VARIETY. After an "uneasy flirtation with multiplatform coverage and the Web in past Olympics, the Peacock has finally committed to a more-is-more strategy." NBCU for Sochi is "rolling out new platforms, new programs and new talent across its apps, the Web and its family of cable nets." Besides the usual primetime broadcasts hosted by Bob Costas, NBC will "offer streaming coverage of every event, and cable coverage will be expanded as well." NBC offered "only short VOD clips" of the '10 Vancouver Games, "all for desktop screens." NBC Sports Group Senior VP & GM/Digital Media Rick Cordella: "The iPad came out in March of 2010, a month after the Vancouver Olympics, so this will be the first time we stream to mobile devices." Cohen noted NBC "draws the line" at the Opening Ceremony, which will not be streamed. NBC for the '12 London Games "couldn’t exploit viral videos and missed out when Olympic moments became must-see YouTube clips." So for Sochi, NBCOlympics.com "will highlight such can’t-miss moments." Having "absorbed the lesson that streaming coverage builds viewer engagement, NBC is experimenting with one of its crown jewels, figure skating coverage, by airing the entire figure skating competition live on the NBC Sports Network" (VARIETY.com, 2/3). In Chicago, Dawn Rhodes notes NBCU will present "an average of 85 1/2 hours of live and tape-delayed competition and ceremonies each day across its five television stations and on NBCOlympics.com" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/4).
LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE: The AP's David Bauder reported NBC is using the Sochi Games "to push interest in technology allowing cable or satellite TV subscribers to see live Winter Olympics competition on mobile phones or tablets." The network yesterday said that it will "give subscribers a 30-minute 'free pass' to Olympics video before they are asked to verify that they are paying customers." On subsequent days, the access "will be limited to five minutes before verification." Cordella said that for the London Games, "just under 10 million mobile devices were authenticated to watch live programming ... although NBC doesn't have a count of how many actual customers that included." Bauder noted NBC is hoping the temporary free pass "will give people a greater incentive to sign in because they will have a taste of what is offered." NBC is live-streaming "more than 1,000 hours of Olympics events" during the Games, as well as "providing analysis, interviews and highlights" (AP, 2/3). Fans can "access the network's streams at NBCOlympics.com/live-extra." Fans also can download the NBC Sports Live Extra mobile app, which will "allow you to live-stream content once you enter your login information" (WSJ.com, 2/1).
ADOBE CONTINUING RELATIONSHIP: Adobe Systems will be continuing its relationship with the NBC Sports Group, helping NBC Olympics deliver Sochi coverage online and through the NBC Sports Live Extra mobile app. NBC will be using Adobe's Primetime video platform, which performs a variety of functions including the video player itself, user authentication, ad insertion and analytics. Adobe also helped develop the NBC Sports Live Extra app itself. Adobe, meanwhile, also has released its quarterly digital benchmark report, measuring online, mobile and TV Everywhere usage across the country. The report found that consumption of digital sports video streaming is up 640% on a year-over-year basis, compared to a 440% increase for all forms of streaming content. Sports is also the top category for consumption of TV Everywhere according to the report's findings, commanding 37% of traffic in that area. "2013 was really a year of experimentation for a lot of networks in terms of the digital deployment of their content," said Adobe System Dir of Product Marketing & Video Solutions Campbell Foster. "What we're seeing this year is a real move toward being able to take that digital content and deliver it at truly major scale" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
When NBC's Tony Dungy interviewed former Dolphins OT Jonathan Martin last week, the net "never had the opportunity, or attempted to exert any influence, on the choice of the interviewer," according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. NBC "reached out" to Martin after bullying allegations broke "but didn't get a response for weeks." The Martin camp a couple of weeks ago "reached out not to NBC officials, but to Dungy directly, telling him he would be interested in doing an interview with Dungy." That was "relayed to" NBC execs. Jackson wrote Dungy is "not a journalist by trade and certainly not a seasoned interviewer." Dungy was "remiss in not asking numerous questions that needed to be." NBC's Bob Costas "would have asked more probing questions, but Martin only wanted Dungy, who seemed more like a father figure than a reporter" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 2/2). In N.Y., Bob Raissman named Dungy his "Dweeb Of The Week," writing Dungy "couldn’t break through" with Martin. Nor did Dungy "ask questions like: How come you didn’t tell teammates to stop messing with you? Or just asking Martin to provide specific details of incidents?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/2). In Boston, Ben Volin wrote Dungy was "way too soft on Martin in last week's NBC interview, failing to question Martin's motives" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/2).
PLACING BLAME? ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Dungy following the interview "found himself on the receiving end of a somewhat confrontational phone call" from Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who believed Dungy "blamed him for not creating a hazing free environment for Martin and other Dolphin players” (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 2/2). Dungy said, “It really wasn’t confrontational. Coach Philbin saw the piece on the ‘Today’ show and where I said at the end, ‘I think Jonathan Martin can play, but he’s going to need the right type of locker room.’ I didn’t think the Miami locker room was a good situation for him. And Coach Philbin took issue with that and wanted to know what I meant by that. We had a discussion and talked about it” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 2/4).
WELLS REPORT EXPECTED THURSDAY: NFL.com's Michael Silver cited a source as saying that the report by special investigator Ted Wells on the Dolphins bullying case is "expected to be delivered Thursday" (TWITTER.com, 2/2). Meanwhile, in Miami, Armando Salguero noted the committee created by Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross to "address some of the problems he perceived to exist within his team" has "never met." It has "no agenda," and there is "no schedule to meet." Sources said that it is "possible that committee may not ever meet." Committee members, which include Dungy and former Dolphins Dan Marino and Jason Taylor, "have not gotten even one phone call relative to information on the committee" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 2/2).