Some very cool news today in the worlds of professional sports and online video, as NBC has announced they will stream this year's Super Bowl online for free. While the network has been streaming their Sunday night games for some time now, this is the first time viewers can watch the Super Bowl online on a live stream.
Watch The Super Bowl Online
The networks alternate Super Bowl coverage (the ones with NFL contracts, at least–sorry ABC), and this year happens to be NBC's year. Lucky them, because they'll get to be a part of the first ever live online stream of a Super Bowl game. The game will be streamed at NBC.com as well as NFL.com, and through Verizon's NFL Mobile.
In some ways, this is a really impressive and nifty move. It takes maybe the largest global television event and brings it online, giving access to millions and millions of new viewers. And I think the numbers are going to be huge.
But in other ways, this is kind of long overdue. I don't want to heap too much praise on the NFL and NBC for this move, because it's almost so late as to be obvious. The Masters and the NCAA basketball tournament have been streaming live online for years.
But the NFL has always been money-conscious, even to the point of copyrighting not only "The Super Bowl" but also the phrase everyone started using after that, "The Big Game." It seems logical to me that both the NFL and the TV networks were concerned about losing ad revenue if the Super Bowl went online. But in this day and age, online ad revenue is on the upswing, and advertisers are becoming more enamored with online video ads.
With online video, there are multiple ways to monetize, once you get great content and viewership. And I'm sure all the commercials will be included in the online broadcast–heck, half the viewers who tune in, even online, will be looking for commercials.
If the NFL is smart, they'll do what The Masters golf tournament does, and give online viewers a few different video feed options to choose from throughout the game, which will make the experience more interactive and engaging.
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.
Of course, it's all converging sooner or later anyway, right? Soon our televisions and our Internet will be intertwined and we'll all be online viewers regardless of our devices.