Streaming is a bigger part of sports viewing than ever before, with streaming part of the latest NFL TV deals, and Amazon Prime Video set to become the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football starting next season. After the 2023 season, the NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market package is expected to switch from DirecTV, at least in part, to a partner that can stream the games.
The Super Bowl, which was played on Sunday, was streamed on Peacock in addition to its regular broadcast on NBC. Conviva released a study this week looking exactly how people streamed the Super Bowl this year, and how they did it.
Per the report, 38.4 percent of those surveyed watched the big game on a connected TV, while 33.5 watched on a smart TV, and 6.5 percent watched through gaming consoles. A full 13.9 percent watched the Super Bowl on their phones.
According to the survey, 78.4 percent of those who watched this year’s Super Bowl did so on televisions with Roku, Samsung TV, or Amazon Fire TV. When it came to devices, of the nearly 80 percent who watched the Super Bowl on a big screen, more than a third, 36.3 percent, watched on the Roku platform, 19.4 percent watched on Amazon Fire TV, and 12.8 percent on Samsung TVs. Apple TV came in with 6.6 percent.
The survey also found that the highest-viewed part of the game was the halftime show, which featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem, despite a close game that went down to the wire. “While viewers were kept on the edge of their seats until the final minute, it was the halftime show that spiked streaming viewership to new heights. Average minute audience during halftime was 13.4% higher than the average during game time, with concurrent viewers peaking at 8:24 PM as the show reached its culmination,” the Conviva report said.
The Ratings Game
When it came to the plain old regular TV ratings, it appears that this month’s Super Bowl was a big winner. According to CNN, which cited NBC’s release of the data, Super Bowl LVI “averaged 112.3 million viewers across TV and streaming,” a big increase over the 96.4 million who watched the game a year earlier. This was attributed to a few factors, including an exciting game that was close until the end, while the previous year’s game had been a blowout. The halftime show was also a big draw.
NBC, in its own announcement, called Super Bowl LVI its highest-rated program in about five years and stated that 103.4 million viewers watched the halftime show. “The Super Bowl once again delivered a massive audience, which included NBC and the unmatched power of broadcast television as well as first-ever presentations on Peacock and Telemundo, and led into our most-watched Olympics coverage in four years,” Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, said in NBC’s release.
The company also called it the “most-streamed Super Bowl ever,” noting that “the Average Minute Audience (AMA) for the Super Bowl live-stream via Peacock, NBC Sports Digital platforms, NFL Digital platforms, Rams and Bengals mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports mobile properties was 6.0 million according to the traditional counting of streaming.”
Cincinnati, home of the Bengals, was called the top metered market for the Super Bowl telecast, while the Rams’ hometown of Los Angeles did not make the list. However, the No. 2 market was Detroit, where quarterback Matthew Stafford had played for his entire career until he was traded to the Rams last off-season.
NBC showed the Super Bowl in the middle of its coverage of the Olympics, on what the network referred to as “Super Gold Sunday.”
Go Woke, Go Broke?
A narrative has emerged in some circles in recent years that NFL ratings had been dipping of late, due to the kneeling protests led by Colin Kaepernick and later joined by other players. In 2020, for instance, ratings dropped for NFL games in the early weeks of the season. However, Sportico reported at the time that the NFL ratings drop in 2020 had been overstated. “The NFL’s four Sunday broadcast windows averaged 18 million viewers, which marked a 3% decline compared to the first Sunday of play in 2019,” that analysis said. “A year ago at this time, the national and regional broadcast windows averaged 18.5 million viewers.”
Ratings for athletic contests are determined by numerous factors, from the players and cities involved in the game to how close the game is. But throughout all of that, the NFL has remained the single highest-rated show on TV, with weekly, monthly, and yearly ratings usually dominated by football games.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.