For the first time, the National Football League's title game will be streamed live to mobile devices, with Verizon Wireless exclusively offering the telecast of the New York Giants taking on the New England Patriots to subscribers with select smartphones.
NBC's Feb. 5 Super Bowl telecast live from Indianapolis will be transcoded and delivered at variable bit rates to eligible Verizon Wireless customers via the NFL Mobile app.
MobiTV, a mobile-video services provider, is handling the back-end transcoding and delivery for the Super Bowl transmission on behalf of Verizon Wireless, as it has done for regular-season games the last two NFL seasons. The Emeryville, Calif.-based company has boosted capacity to be able to handle "hundreds of thousands" of concurrent viewers, MobiTV chief marketing officer Ray DeRenzo said.
"We've had to certify our platform to a very, very high concurrent level," DeRenzo said, declining to be more specific. "Verizon has been incredibly on-point to make sure this is a very, very compelling user experience."
He added, "The expectation is that, given the significance of the Super Bowl, we're likely see a traffic load that would exceed a normal game."
MobiTV will transocde NBC's telecast into a number of different bit rates, ranging from 200 Kilobits per second to 1.2 Megabits per second, DeRenzo said, declining to identify the encoding-system vendor or vendors it is using. From its redundant data centers in Sacramento, Calif., and Las Vegas, MobiTV will hand off the streams to its Internet content delivery network partner.
The Super Bowl telecast from Verizon Wireless will be available only on smartphones, not tablets, spokeswoman Debra Lewis said. However, tablet users will potentially be able to watch the game for free on NBCSports.com using a Web browser.
NBC in December announced that it would offer the Super Bowl telecast free on the Internet at NBCSports.com and NFL.com, as well as provide it to Verizon Wireless.
The Verizon Wireless NFL Mobile app is available for iPhone and iPod touch, as well as select Android handsets, including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. In all, users with one of upwards of 75 of the carrier's devices will be able to stream the game.
Subscribers with 3G smartphones must pay $3 per day or $10 per month for Verizon Wireless's video package to get the Super Bowl live. For 4G smartphone customers, the fee during the 2011-2012 NFL season has been waived. The video package includes more than 100 channels and on-demand content.
Verizon Wireless said message and data rates may apply for app download and use, although the live feed will be available to subscribers over Wi-Fi as well as 3G and LTE networks.
Information about NFL Mobile, including how to download the app, is available at www.verizonwireless.com/nfl.
Verizon Wireless is paying the NFL $720 million in a four-year sponsorship pact that kicked off with the 2010-11 season, under which it has exclusive mobile TV rights.
Meanwhile, at the game itself, Verizon Wireless said it has enhanced its network at more than 30 venues in Indianapolis, including major hotels and facilities where the game and related events will take place.
Also as part of its Super Bowl activities, Verizon will participate in the 13th annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration on Friday, Feb. 3, featuring retired NFL stars, Grammy Award-winning singers and other performers. In addition, the carrier, through its HopeLine from Verizon charity promoting awareness of domestic violence, will make a donation to a local domestic violence agency.