Fox Sports claimed that its pair of live streams (delivered in English and Spanish) of Sunday’s Super Bowl blowout between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks drew an average audience of 528,000 viewers per minute, making it the most-viewed for a single sports event delivered online.
As part of a 27-hour preview, Fox’s presented free coverage of the game on iPads via the Fox Sports GO app and on browsers at FoxSports.com (Verizon Wireless's deal with the NFL gave the carrier the exclusive rights to live streaming of the game on smartphones). Fox Sports’ TV Everywhere app has since been placed behind the authentication paywall, where it’s currently available to customers of AT&T U-verse, Midcontinent Communications, Cablevision Systems, Suddenlink Communications and Comcast.
Fox, which used thePlatform as its backend video management system for its online coverage of the game, said its average beat CBSSports.com’s 2013 online coverage of the big game, which averaged 508,000 viewers per minute, by about 4%, and outpaced NBCSports.com’s 2012 streaming coverage (346,000) by more than 52%.
Fox, the first to stream the Super Bowl via a discrete tablet app, said those average streaming numbers also compared favorably to ESPN’s streaming of the 2014 BCS Championship (252,000) and 2010 live online coverage of the 2010 World Cup Semifinal fixture between Spain and Germany (355,000).
While Fox Sports’ streaming figures stacked up well versus recent online Super Bowl coverage, they were still dwarfed by the regular TV viewing audience, which drew a record average of 111.5 million total viewers, according to Nielsen.
Fox Sports has yet to release a tally on how many total consumers tuned into watch its Super Bowl streams. Last year, about 3 million tuned in for CBS’s online coverage, while about 1 million caught all or part of NBC’s Super Bowl stream in 2012.
Fox Sports is still wading through a “mountain of data,” Pete Vlastelica, senior vice president, digital for Fox Sports, said, stressing that the programmer hit all of the internal audience targets it set for its live streaming coverage of the game.
The programmer said the peak audience of Fox Sports’ live Super Bowl coverage reached 1.1 million concurrent users at about 9:11 p.m. ET, occurring during the third quarter of the game.
Heading into the game, Fox Sports said building out enough capacity for concurrent streaming, not the total number of users, was the main concern. Vlastelica said Fox Sports and partner Akamai reserved plenty of streaming capacity to handle the usage spikes it was dealt on Sunday.
“We never came close to reaching the capacity we planned for as a contingency,” he said.
The programmer said traffic at the FoxSports.com site on Sunday reached 5.5 million unique visitors, up 13% versus 2011, the last time Fox televised the Super Bowl, and up 84% versus last year’s game.
Fox Sports used the Super Bowl and preview period as a coming out party for the Fox Sports Go app, which was launched last year and developed with Anvato. The programmer hasn’t released a specific figure, but claimed Monday that Fox Sports Go was the most-downloaded sports app for iPhones and iPads on Sunday, and was the second-most downloaded iPad app across categories.