While this Super Bowl Sunday will most likely be remembered for landmark television ratings, it will also mark the highest-profile single-day streaming event in sports history: NBC Sports will stream Super Bowl XLVI live online. Although high-profile events like the 2010 World Cup and Beijing and Vancouver Olympics have been streamed, a one-day sports event on the level of the Super Bowl has never been made available online.
“We are really looking to build on what we have created for Sunday Night Football [streaming],” says Eric Black, director of digital operations, NBC Sports and Olympics. “This is a tent-pole event for us and something that we are incredibly excited to be able to offer.”
NBCSports.com and NFL.com will stream Sunday’s game as well as the pregame, halftime, and postgame festivities online for free. The stream will be available to view on computers, iPads, and about a dozen Android tablets. In addition, Verizon Wireless is streaming the game to subscribers of its V Cast video service and NFL Mobile package on the iPhone or Android phones.
Similar to SNF Offering
NBC’s computer/tablet offering will closely resemble NBCSports.com’s SNF All-Access service available this season for Sunday Night Football games. In addition to the linear broadcast feed, the user can select from four isolated camera feeds: sideline and end-zone positions, the CableCam, and a StarCam focused on a key player in the game. A picture-in-picture option enables users to watch up to two feeds at once.
“We’re sticking with the multicam approach we take for Sunday Night Football that is complementary to the broadcast,” says Black. “We will switch up [the use of the alternate camera feeds] a little bit since we will also have pregame content this year. For that, we will probably be doing some stuff that is a bit more out-of-the-box than standard football coverage.”
The video player itself, which Black says is “extremely similar” to the SNF video player used during the regular season, offers resolution of up to 720p at 3.5 Mbps and uses adaptive-bitrate technology to give the user the best possible quality, depending on available bandwidth. It also boasts full DVR functionality, including pause, rewind, and replay, as well as a metadata-driven timeline on the scrubber bar that allows users to access highlights of big plays.
The player also features plenty of Twitter, Facebook, and stats widgets to keep fans informed and connected during the game.
Commercials for Replay
Although the streaming-video experience on Super Bowl Sunday will be similar to that of regular-season Sunday Night Football, NBC Sports has included one major enhancement: the inclusion of all Super Bowl commercials within the player on demand once they are shown during the linear broadcast.
“Commercials are obviously important for an event like this,” says Black. “It falls in line with how to complement the broadcast. If you just saw a commercial and you want to rewatch it right away, it will then be available almost immediately on the player.”
Digital ad inventory is being sold separately from the linear broadcast, which means that commercials that air on television will match up with the live stream. However, with the VOD-commercial option, fans can rewatch their favorite commercials after they air during the primary broadcast.
All A-Twitter for the Big Game
In addition, the video player will feature enhanced Twitter integration, including a moderated Q&A session with fans and talent.
“We will be doing something similar to the Q&A we do [during the regular season] but will add more content sources to that,” says Black. “It is going to be lot busier because it is the Super Bowl, but we are making sure that it will be heavily moderated and the content quality remains high.”
A Network Prepared
Although an event like the Super Bowl creates an obvious strain on any content-delivery network, NBC is not worried in the least, having streamed two Olympics to millions around the world in recent years.
“We have the robust platform and the experience — with two Olympics behind us — to pull something like this off,” says Black. “We’re extremely excited to be part of the first Super Bowl to be streamed online and are confident it will be a great experience.”
Watching the Game on the Go
Sunday will also mark the first time the Super Bowl has been available live on smartphones, offered by Verizon Wireless’s NFL Mobile service. Through a deal with the NFL and NBC Sports, the nation’s largest wireless carrier has streamed SNF games all season, as well as a handful of Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football games on ESPN and NFL Network, respectively.
Subscribers of must have the provider’s V Cast video service, (which costs $3 per day or $10 per month) and download the NFL Mobil app from Apple’s App Store or the Android Market, according to AP. In addition, any fan expecting to watch the entire game on a phone better have a high-ceiling data plan because three-plus hours of streaming tends to eat up plenty of data.
Verizon’s NFL Mobile service does not offer multiple camera angles or DVR functionality. In addition, commercial placement will correspond to the linear broadcast, and commercials will not be available on demand.
Although it may not offer all the bells and whistles, the Verizon mobile app will allow fans to watch the nation’s biggest sports event as they jump from party to party or take a bathroom break.
NBCSports.com and NFL.com will begin streaming the pregame show at 12 noon ET on Sunday. Kickoff of the game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.