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NFL undercuts Super Bowl?s group-watching heritage with mobile streaming

Taking advantage of the staggering number of viewers that tune in to the Super Bowl each year, NBC and NFL will stream the game, halftime show and additional content via their mobile platforms, but experts believe the strategy may be a disservice given the social context of the event.

While mobile TV and video consumption is on the rise, consumers are undoubtedly looking for these experiences from their favorite networks. However, the Super Bowl, aside from die-hard fans of the participating teams, is very strongly associated with entertainment and sociability to a wide variety of viewers. 

?I can see value for maybe a stats junkie to be able to pull up additional content alongside the game, but I?m intrigued by the NFL?s strategy here, because they?ve spent a lot of time and money convincing America ? and the world ? that this is a group-watching activity,? said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research. ?For Super Bowl parties, you want to participate even if it?s not your team, so streaming the game ? even with extra content ? isn?t nearly as exciting to me as hanging out with friends and enjoying the game in a social context. 

?If you take the emphasis away from that, you risk making the game more about what?s important to true fans of the teams and not about the event itself,? she said. ?I would think that?s a risky move.?

Watch and learn
NBC plans to stream 11 hours of live content on Super Bowl Sunday that will be free of charge.

Its provided content will include the game, halftime show and pre- and post-game shows. NBC?s efforts in providing a mobile capability follow an attempt to raise awareness of its online viewing platforms.

Starting at noon Feb. 1, users of the NBC Sports Live Extra app and Web site can tune in on their tablets or desktop to watch without creating a login account.

NBC removed the login step to encourage viewers to give the service a try.

After the Super Bowl coverage concludes, NBC will show a new episode of The Blacklist on TV, and the episode will also be available on

As far as NFL?s offerings, fans will be able to watch interviews with players and celebrities live from the Super Bowl media center, live streaming video of the game through NFL Mobile from Verizon, and, watch insight and analysis from NFL insiders, shows and events and social updates surrounding the event from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

In the past
Last year?s mobile efforts for the Super Bowl were very different.

While mobile was slated to play a bigger role in Super Bowl XLVIII campaigns from brands such as H&M, Pepsi and McDonald?s, innovative efforts that pushed the envelope too much with new technology possibly missed the mark on delivering entertainment and branding value.

H&M, Pepsi and McDonald's are traditionally three of the largest advertisers during the Super Bowl, and all leveraged mobile in unique ways this year through video, new forms of advertising and commerce functions. Despite the fact that mobile was continuing to grab a bigger piece of marketing mixes even in 2013, the shift towards using new types of technology was a bigger challenge for marketers in 2014 (see story).

However, results from last year?s consumption trends of the Super Bowl could be promising for NFL and NBC and their streaming offerings.

Social media, gaming and weather applications were the top categories that consumers were most likely to be using while watching last year?s Super Bowl, according to a study from Soasta.

Soasta?s Super Bowl Second Screen study looked specifically at how consumers were going to use their smartphones and tablets for multitasking during the coveted advertising mecca of the Super Bowl. The study was conducted online for two days in Jan. 2014 and surveyed 2,035 adults, 1,289 of whom owned smartphones and tablets (see story).

?NBC was the first broadcasting company to live-stream the Super Bowl in 2012, and CBS and Fox joined in over the last two years,? said Jamie Fishler, vice president of marketing at Magnetic. ?NBC's extended pre-game streaming coverage offers marketers a larger window to advertise during this notable event. 

?This means viewers will tune in early across devices, making the entire day leading up to game time a prime opportunity to reach and influence audiences,? she said. ?What?s also notable is that the live stream will include the ads that run during the game, peaking interest early and potentially increasing social shares for brands that capitalize on the entire day. 

?The ability to stream across TV, desktop, mobile, and tablets will also help increase the number of consumers that actually tune in early online. Without mobile, brands would have a limited audience and window of time to influence purchases and create awareness during this seasonal event.?

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York