CBS reported that nearly 4 million unique viewers, on average, streamed the Super Bowl on Sunday night, eclipsing the record set last February by NBC's live stream of the championship game, when about 1.3 million unique viewers watched online.
Furthermore, CBS Sports held those viewers' attention for an average of 101 minutes. CBS recorded an average minute audience of 1.4 million, with viewers watching a combined 315 million minutes of coverage during the game.
The viewer numbers suggest steady growth in live streaming's accessibility and popularity among consumers, rather than a huge spike on a viewing graph. For example, Yahoo recorded 3 million concurrent users in October during its live stream of a regular season NFL game.
Live streaming may have a scored a decisive win during the Super Bowl on Sunday night, but not just in viewer numbers. Online watchers also saw a very reliable online video stream, with few major problems reported -- at least, anecdotally.
"There were scattered reports that the CBS app on Apple TV was down for the first 20 minutes of the stream," said Videomind's Jim O'Neill in a post-game wrap. "I watched at various times on different devices. I started watching a quarter of the CBS broadcast via Charter, switched to Verizon (an iPad), Roku and Apple. All were, essentially, superb."
Other media outlets as well as many social media users reported issues logging into the CBS Sports viewing app and website during the game, according to TV Predictions. Interestingly, Roku devices apparently streamed the game without problems.
In terms of latency, the live stream was naturally behind the broadcast signal by several seconds, a difference that varied from viewer to viewer. Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal reported a lag of 20 to 30 seconds behind the broadcast signal. "Not a big surprise at this stage, but Super Bowl stream looking clean, solid. About 20-30 sec delay from live. Par for the course," Fisher tweeted during the game. Fisher streamed the game on a laptop, tablet and Apple TV. (Here at FierceOnlineVideo a streaming lag of about 45 seconds to 1 minute was consistent over the Verizon FiOS network in the Northeast.)
In the meantime, Verizon may have set a record for mobile streaming during the game as well. In an interview on CNBC's Mad Money on Saturday, CEO Lowell McAdam said that the wireless provider had added hundreds of cell sites in the San Francisco area to increase capacity. "You walk into the stadium at this time … in 2012 at the Indy Super Bowl we did less than 200 gigabytes of throughput; this year during the three hours of the Super Bowl, 6 terabytes," he predicted.
Verizon saw its exclusive license to stream the Super Bowl on mobile phones as an opportunity to build on new technologies and concepts in the San Francisco area, such as the Internet of Things. "We don't think of ourselves as a utility anymore. It's part of that, it's a great heritage but we think we can build on that," McAdam said, adding that the provider wants to be San Francisco's partner in making it a "smart city."
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Updated Feb. 8 to reflect updated viewing numbers by CBS.