When the New England Patriots kicked off to the New York Giants for Super Bowl 46, 111.3 million people were watching the game on television sets around the world. And this year the NFL, one of the most successful sports -- and yes, media -- brands in the world, debuted the broadcast on more than just television screens. For the first time ever, the Super Bowl was streamed live via the Internet. The NFL -– like many video content providers -- is adopting a multiplatform, multi-device strategy for delivering its valuable content.
Given the strength of its brand and content, NFL strategists could have continued to resist this shift. They could have held on for two, three, four or more years of broadcasting the most-watched annual sports competition only to TV. But they didn’t. They streamed the game for the first time. In addition, the Super Bowl isn’t the NFL’s only embrace of the future of video content delivery. The NFL has allowed NBC’s Sunday Night football program to also stream games live via the Net, with alternate camera angles and other video “bonuses” available to viewers of the stream.
Why have NFL strategists made these broadcast and delivery decisions? Because they have realized, as have many other video content providers, that the future of video content delivery is via a multi-platform, multi-device strategy.
Despite numerous pundits discussing cord-cutting, the vast majority of consumers remain cable and satellite subscribers, but they do want access to more content on more devices.
Certainly, the Super Bowl is one of only a very small handful of broadcast events that command an overwhelming, live audience. The Super Bowl is in very rare company along with the Grammys, the Oscars, the Olympics every four years, and the FIFA World Cup.
While premium content and events like these can continue to command a large live audience via television, they are the exceptions to the rule. Consumers have spoken -- and spoken loudly -- via their own media consumption and video watching habits. Consumers want to watch video content on multiple screens, multiple devices, and beyond the home. The device and platform options are numerous: cable and satellite, Internet-enabled TVs, Roku, Boxee, PCs and Macs connected to TVs, AppleTV, Xbox 360, Wii, Playstation, iOS devices, Android phones and tablets, and yes, even DVDs.
When industry analysts and executives look back on the expansion of multi-device, multiplatform viewing, we think that many will cite the NFL’s decision in 2012 to stream the Super Bowl to be a bellwether event. Yes, millions and millions of people watch the Super Bowl via TVs, but the demand, hunger for that content on multiple devices could no longer be ignored.