Super Bowl streaming heralds traditional media’s demise

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

21 December 2011

The NFL joins the new wave of how we view television

In this day and age of hyper-segmentation, with broadcasters and media providers developing programming for a specific audience (i.e., those they deem they can market to), there is still a single bastion of commonality that brings consumer segments spanning the gambit together for no less that 4 hours – the Super Bowl. And now comes Super Bowl streaming.

Some companies spend nearly their entire annual advertising budget on a 30-second ad, hoping it will be the subject of “Super Bowl top 10 commercial” lists or get the all important social media title of “viral.” For advertisers, the Super Bowl has become more than a football championship. It’s become the championship of advertisers and their agencies.

“Secondly, and more importantly, Super Bowl streaming is a signal that the NFL understands that the world is changing and that perhaps it will eventually not need traditional over-the-wire or cable broadcast to get their product out to the masses.”

Analysts, bloggers, newscasters, and everyone in between will spend the weeks and months before and after the Super Bowl dissecting the ads, saying which one they believe were the most entertaining, provocative, and funny. There is often a hush at Super Bowl parties at the first commercial break with viewers expecting to see a commercial that will blow their minds. For many, the ads have become as important as the game itself.

This year’s Super Bowl will change everything. For the first time, the Super Bowl will be streamed on the Internet. Viewers will have unprecedented control over camera angles and replays. Computers, hand-held devices, and Internet-capable TVs will be tuned in to the game like never before, giving users of these devices a novel way to see an event they have come to love.

This is exactly why Super Bowl streaming heralds in a new era of media.

First, viewers who are seeing the game streamed on the Internet now have the ability to easily navigate away from the torrent of advertising that accompanies the game. Not to say that those who have no interest in the ads previously did not get up to go to the bathroom, get another beer, or refill their plate of food. But watching it on a phone or computer, it is much easier to open a new tab or check email during the ad breaks.

Super Bowl streamingSecondly, and more importantly, Super Bowl streaming is a signal that the NFL understands that the world is changing and that perhaps it will eventually not need traditional over-the-wire or cable broadcast to get their product out to the masses. Though the game will still, and probably always, be on a major over-the-air network, the shift in strategy by the NFL is a signal to viewers and advertisers alike that the world of programming transmission is changing, forever.

For advertisers, bringing the Super Bowl online means viewers will have the immediate ability to interact with a message, including choosing what messages to view, interact with or avoid.  For the viewer, it means more control over the content and, equally important, a reminder that they do not need a cable subscription to get content. Although the Super Bowl will continue to be broadcast, cable companies should be very concerned about a program with this much impact being broadcast over a different venue than their own.

For local cable providers as well as local major network affiliates, the time allotted to local advertising ceases to exist when the Super Bowl is streamed. Though they are not getting the obscene money the national broadcasters are getting, they were getting a sizable amount of revenue for their local ads. It does not seem so far fetched to think that one day the NFL may just decide to stream the Super Bowl ONLY and profit from the entire program, including the ad revenue that is now being collected by the network. Clearly, it sees the possibility.

The writing on the wall has been there for a couple of years. The Internet allows viewers to control the content when and where to see it, and eliminate the carrier. Rather, they are going directly to the content producer and will be doing so more and more as all forms of media displays, TVs, phones, and computers are designed to do one thing: deliver content regardless of its source. The old saying “content is king” is absolutely true in this age of the Internet and it is the content creators who stand the most to benefit from the demise of traditional media.


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