More people streamed the Super Bowl than ever on Sunday.
CBS announced today that fans watching its free Super Bowl 50 live stream consumed more than 315 million total minutes of game coverage and watched the feed for an average of 101 minutes each. The average minute audience was 1.4 million.
Those stats are all up from data reported last year by NBC, which streamed Super Bowl 49. NBC did not reveal how many total unique viewers it had, but the cable giant did report 213 million total minutes of streaming coverage consumed with an average of 84.2 minutes per viewer.
NBC also reported an average minute audience of 800,000, which was up 52 percent from the 2014 Super Bowl stream that FOX handled. It also said concurrent users peaked at 1.3 million in 2015 — CBS did not report any data on this for its stream on Sunday.
CBS streamed the game on its website and through a bevy of platforms that have the CBS Sports app, including: iOS, Android, Windows 10, Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire HD tablets. Overall, there seemed to be few technical malfunctions, but some Apple TV users reported intermittent connections, as did others on different platforms.
CBS also streamed a bevy of Super Bowl related content before the game on Sunday via CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app. Including the non-game content, CBS said that 3.96 million unique viewers on the live stream consumed more than 402 million total minutes of coverage.
The stream did not require cable subscription credentials, however, given the NFL’s exclusive contract with Verizon, non-Verizon customers weren’t able to stream games to their smartphone.
It’s worth noting, as Recode’s Peter Kafka did today, that the numbers from CBS include users who watched via the official NFL smartphone app for Verizon customers and through the Xbox One. Making matters more complicated was the fact that CBS and NBC did not use identical metrics to measure engagement, so it’s a bit difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
Still, it’s clear that more and more folks are relying on the Internet to access live sports streams, and cable companies are responding with new technology to make it happen. But some experts are raising a few concerns — for example, StreamingMedia.com executive Dan Rayburn told NPR on Monday that streaming content online “is not the future for large-scale live events.”
CBS, which streamed four playoff games this season, also streamed the Super Bowl three years ago. One new aspect of this year’s Super Bowl stream was the advertisements, which aired on the TV broadcast and the online stream in near real-time. In previous years, some but not all TV commercials aired to viewers watching online.
This is a big deal because it’s the first time in history that a broadcaster has lumped live-streaming into the same advertising package as broadcast TV for the Super Bowl, where 30-second advertisements sold for around $5 million this year.
Last year, NBC sold digital-only ads for the game that were only broadcasted via the online stream. But CBS took a different route by selling broadcast and live-streaming ads in one package, versus offering the option to do either.
Speaking of ads, YouTube said today that people spent 300,000 hours watching Super Bowl commercials and teaser videos on YouTube during the game on Sunday. Overall, it reported nearly 4 million hours of time spent watching and 330 million views (60 percent on mobile) for Super Bowl 50-related ads and teasers.
Bloomberg also noted that Facebook and Twitter activity during Super Bowl 50 was down quite a bit from last year, though CBS reported lower TV ratings than last year, too — perhaps the decreasing social media activity was more about the game than the platforms themselves.
Earlier this season, Yahoo paid the NFL a reported $20 million for the exclusive rights to live stream a regular season game from London. It was the first NFL game to be aired strictly online versus on the TV broadcast.
We tested out the stream on multiple devices and our experience watching was smooth overall. In total, Yahoo said it reached 15.2 million unique viewers (in line with Monday Night Football online streams) and reported more than 460 million total minutes of video consumed on its feed — however, unlike CBS’ Super Bowl feed, Yahoo’s was available around the world and was promoted across Yahoo’s platforms like Mail and Yahoo.com.