Super Bowl to be streamed live online for first time

This February, for the first time ever, the Super Bowl, along with the Pro Bowl and other postseason games, will be live streamed on the Internet by NBC.

NBC has vast experience with live streaming, having already streamed the last two Olympics and is set to stream the 2012 Summer Olympics from London. And it has put online every Sunday Night Football matchup — including those that happen in the postseason — for the last four years.

The netwrok said it has learned that online viewers generally don’t cannibalize the live broadcast audience for major sporting events. The Associated Press reported that NBC typically gets about 200,000-300,000 online viewers, compared to more than 20 million that tune in for the telecast.

NBC has also found that while they frequently get a fairly significant number of viewers tuning in on the Internet, the online viewers have had little impact on broadcast ratings. In fact, there is some question as to how many viewers will choose to watch a video stream of the Super Bowl since most viewers tend to watch the big game live on standard or large screen TV sets.

The live stream will use the same Microsoft Silverlight player that NBC uses for its Sunday Night Football streams. But NBC left the possibility open of adding some additional features to the Super Bowl broadcast.

Also, there will be no authentication for the Super Bowl or other postseason games. Viewers will not have to prove they are a cable subscriber to get access to the game. The game will be available for anyone in the U.S., but due to rights issues, will be blocked from international viewers.

The online stream of the Super Bowl will have its own set of ads, which will differ from those shown on broadcast television. NBC knows that the groundbreaking ads brands are a major draw for much of its audience, so it will make those ads available on one feed of the online broadcast as well.