Can the Super Bowl spur digital fans to get super-excited about paying for cable TV?
NBCUniversal will launch an 11-hour free digital video stream — centered around live coverage of this year’s Feb. 1 Super Bowl — in a bid to get users to log in to its “TV Everywhere” services across its broadcast and cable portfolio the rest of the year.
The Peacock’s “Super Stream Sunday” event will include NBC’s presentation of Super Bowl XLIX live from Arizona, pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots, as well as the halftime show toplined by Katy Perry. The live-stream will kick off at 12 p.m. ET on Feb. 1 with NBC’s pregame coverage and concludes with an airing of a new episode of primetime drama “The Blacklist” at approximately 10 p.m. ET.
The free live video stream will be available at http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra.
Ordinarily, access to the NBC Sports Live Extra and NBC.com content requires users to log in using credentials from participating cable, satellite and telco TV providers. The free promo is aimed at driving usage of TVE, to ensure those subscribers keep paying for television service.
“We are leveraging the massive digital reach of the Super Bowl to help raise overall awareness of TV Everywhere by allowing consumers to explore our vast TVE offering with this special one-day-only access,” said Alison Moore, g.m. and exec VP of TV Everywhere for NBCU.
NBC does not have NFL live-streaming rights on smartphone devices, which the league has granted exclusively to Verizon Wireless. As such, the “Super Stream Sunday” content will be available on tablets and desktop computers.
Both NFL.com and SuperBowl.com will link to NBC’s live stream of Super Bowl XLIX for fans in the U.S.; that’s slated to include interactive online and social features created by the league complementing the NBC broadcast of the game. The NFL also will serve up a host of content on NFL Now, its digital-only network launched this season, surrounding the Super Bowl.
NBC was the first broadcaster to live-stream a Super Bowl, for Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, and the big game has been offered as a free stream the last two years by CBS and Fox, respectively.
This is the first time NBC will stream the Super Bowl halftime show, after the broadcaster was able to clear digital music rights to the performances, slated to include Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz. The live-stream will feature ads sold specifically for digital (although some ads airing in the linear TV feed are expected to be in the mix); the Super Bowl spots will also be available online at NBCSports.com’s Tumblr page for the game as well as Hulu and YouTube.
To deliver the Super Bowl live stream, NBC Sports will use the same infrastructure it did for its presentation of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia. That includes products and services from Adobe Systems, Akamai Technologies and the Microsoft Azure cloud-computing platform. Rick Cordella, senior VP and g.m. of digital media, NBC Sports Group, said the live Super Bowl stream will be available at eight variable bit rates in up to 720p HD quality, delivered as an HLS stream.
Meanwhile, the NFL said live video of the game will not be available to fans in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Super Bowl Sunday. Instead, the league and Verizon Wireless are launching a Super Bowl Stadium App to provide exclusive in-stadium video content including commercials and replays from four different camera angles.
For users located overseas, the league sells NFL Game Pass, priced at $9.99, which will include the ability to watch Super Bowl XLIX live or on-demand online.