Retro/Future Super Bowl: Somebody Move The Antenna!

It was like watching the Super Bowl in the 1950s. That’s because my viewing of the Super Bowl was at a streaming-only TV party.

That in and of itself would be quite fine, except for my host’s streaming technology problems. Freezes, buffering, and one-too-many black screens during the show were a big part of the experience.

Then there was the lack of commercials.

Unlike the 54 different advertisers that made their way onto the big screen game, only 18 advertisers participated in the streaming version of the NBC telecast.

Early on in the game that meant that many of those online spots were run double, triple (or even more) times. Remember, this was a live TV show, not a pre-produced program with limited advertiser messages surrounding a video-on-demand viewing.

Pretty much as expected, NBC didn’t sell out the entire advertising inventory online, so when there was a vacancy in the schedule, a static billboard informed us the network would be returning to the game soon. Good news for party guests: We could talk about other stuff, including non-football topics.  Bad news for NBC and the NFL: We weren’t talking about football or TV commercials.



NBC said 100% of those 18 online advertisers also bought time on the regular broadcast. Those commercials that found their way onto the online-streaming event included T-Mobile’s Kim Kardashian spot; Universal Pictures’ “Furious 7”; and Pierce Brosnan’s Kia Sorento commercial.

Technology glitches aside, it seems as if continuous action sports would do better with this kind of still-nascent business-advertising streaming model.

During the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, TV Watch viewed the entire men’s road cycling race -- some six hours of programming. Commercial breaks amounted to three General Electric corporate messages (GE being the corporate parent of NBCUniversal at the time).

That’s right: three relatively short messages in six hours! Nice for the viewer; not so good for NBC executives trying to monetize streaming programming.

This recent Super Bowl experience should have been better, especially since this was the fourth year the Super Bowl was available for live-streaming.

I’m sure somewhere people had a good time watching the streaming version of the game, with technical glitches at a minimum -- but obviously not everyone. Quality-wise you wonder if a good antenna -- even one from the 1950s -- would have worked better.

Live-streaming will provide true quality to current media users only when they start to forget what “buffering” and “freezes” mean.

For the next Super Bowl, I’d be happy to go back to using the word “snow”: a common problem in 1950s TV viewing.

1 comment about "Retro/Future Super Bowl: Somebody Move The Antenna! ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, February 3, 2015 at 4:54 p.m.

    Here's the Marketing, Advertising and TV performance issue from a business perspective:
    Not only what did people see and how did they see it, but also 1) Was the viewing of the streaming Super Bowl telecast measured and reported by Nielsen and 2) Is it reflected in the Nielsen Ratings from NBC (Commercial or Programming) you wrote about yesterday?
    I watched the game over-the air and in two streaming formats. There was no "lack" of commercials in any format.
    Hence, your article should have addressed the matter of why did sponsors withhold spending on the "streaming" version? Interestingly, in no case did my mobile streams go to black screen. Clearly, there was more than one digital stream!
    Let's forget the intellectual "snow" on our mental screens and get down to business -- and acknowledge that the situation is far more complex that your color commentary suggests.

Next story loading loading..