The continued perception that streaming sports online somehow affects the overall TV audience continues unabated. Or, rather, the perception is being used to gain leverage, and no one actually believes that myth anymore. The American Television Alliance, which is a lobbyist group that represents cable, satellite, and phone companies, believes that because the Super Bowl will be offered freely online, they shouldn't have to pay local broadcasters extra money for football games. Because as we all know, everyone who wants to watch the game will be inviting their friends over for beer, pizza, chips, awesome commercials, and the biggest game of the year...to watch it on a laptop.
The Effect Of Online Streaming Of Special Events Has Already Been Tested, And It Does Not Affect TV
Anyone remember the game earlier in the year between LSU and Alabama? That game had Super Bowl-sized hype, some calling it "The Game of the Century" because hyperbole is copyrighted by the Ghost of Christmas Present. CBS had over 200,000 people watch that game online, and then proceeded to have their 2nd all-time greatest TV audience in 25 years. You know why? Because when most people actually have a choice, they'll find a huge screen to watch a game like that. But there are other people in this world who don't get a chance to watch the game on a big screen. They're at work or traveling. You know, giving them the option to see the game when they otherwise couldn't.
You can't blame the American Television Alliance for trying. Currently, cable and satellite companies pay a ton of money for local stations to be carried by them, something that the 1992 Cable Act wanted to encourage so that local programming had more money to appeal to their communities. The Alliance argues that the money is being used to fatten local broadcasters' pockets rather than being used to create anything. This is something that I believe is important to correct, for sure, because we see those extra fees being handed to us with our cable bills. In fact, local broadcasters are apparently looking for even more cash, and are blacking out stations and threatening more if the cable/satellite/phone companies don't cave in.
However, these are two different things. People will not be choosing to watch the Super Bowl online instead of on TV. And as Jeremy pointed out in this article:
So who will watch the Super Bowl online? People on the go. Husbands or wives that are sports fans who end up dragged to another event. People at large parties where the view isn't so good. I've been to Super Bowl parties where there are multiple televisions on showing the game... you could easily turn on a desktop, set up a laptop, or put an iPad out with the game on to add even more coverage.
The online coverage enhances coverage and can find a broader audience than ever before. There will be no effect for the overall TV audience. God help us if a weak matchup occurs, because everyone will come out of the woodwork blaming online's presence for the lack of viewers. I'd like to preempt that kind of talk by saying, "What a load of nonsense."