The game for many may have been a snoozer, but Fox Sports claims it set a new Internet streaming record for a sporting event with Super Bowl XLVIII — even though it amounted to just a fraction of the U.S. TV audience.
The Fox Sports Go “preview” service delivered the Super Bowl stream to an average audience of 528,000 viewers per minute Sunday, according to Adobe Analytics. That would put Fox’s webcast up 4% over last year’s Super Bowl on CBSSports.com, which pulled in 508,000 viewers per minute, and up 52% from NBCSports.com’s 346,000 in 2012.
Unlike the past two Super Bowls, Fox made the webcast available to tablets as well as personal computers, though not smartphones given the NFL’s exclusive licensing of those rights to Verizon Wireless.
However, Fox’s peak audience for the Super Bowl — of 1.1 million concurrent users at 9:11 p.m. Eastern during the third quarter — was not even close to the all-time record for a live-streamed event. That high-water mark still belongs to the Red Bull Stratos space jump by skydiver Felix Baumgartner in October 2012, which more than 8 million people watched live concurrently on YouTube.
On TV, the Fox broadcast of Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 shellacking of the Denver Broncos delivered a record 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-viewed television event ever.
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Fox didn’t release a figure for the cumulative number of unique viewers who accessed the Super Bowl feed online or on tablets. In 2012, NBC was the first broadcaster to stream the Super Bowl on the Internet for free, attracting 2.1 million users. CBSSports.com drew about 3 million uniques for last year’s championship.
In terms of time spent viewing, Fox’s Super Bowl webcast yielded an average of 47.8 minutes watching the live stream, up 25% vs. CBS last year and up 29% vs. NBC in 2012.
Fox used Super Bowl XLVIII to showcase the Fox Sports Go online and mobile authentication service for pay-TV subscribers. The programmer called the Super Bowl streaming video a “special preview” of Fox Sports Go, which provides access to live streaming of two sports cable networks — Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 — select Fox Sports broadcast events and shows. Currently the Fox Sports Go service is accessible only to subscribers of six providers: Comcast, AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Systems, Suddenlink, WideOpenWest and Midcontinent.
Fox provided the Super Bowl stream to desktop computers at FoxSports.com and via the Fox Sports Go app for iPad. Fox did not have rights to stream the game to smartphones, available only through the NFL Mobile subscription service on Verizon Wireless.