A Skeptical Review Of CBS' Super Bowl Online Streaming Success : All Tech Considered For the first time, CBS put the full Super Bowl, with ads, online and claimed record viewership. But StreamingMedia.com's Dan Rayburn says the decision to stream is getting too much hype.
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A Skeptical Review Of CBS' Super Bowl Online Streaming Success

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A Skeptical Review Of CBS' Super Bowl Online Streaming Success

A Skeptical Review Of CBS' Super Bowl Online Streaming Success

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And now it's time for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MCEVERS: Let's talk about the technology of TV watching these days. If you watched the Super Bowl, how did you do it? Did you do it on cable? Did you use rabbit ears? Yes, those still exist. Or did you stream it?

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

CBS did put the big game out there on the Internet, and for the first time, they aired commercials that way, too. The online audience was a record according to the network. CBS says nearly 4 million unique viewers checked into the live stream.

MCEVERS: That sounds like a lot of people, but it's only a very small portion of the total audience - about 112 million.

DAN RAYBURN: It'll never get to a number where it'll be significant.

MCEVERS: That's Dan Rayburn. He's the executive vice president at streamingmedia.com. He's not all that impressed with the online Super Bowl audience. He points out that less than half of them were even watching at any given moment. And of all of those connected laptops and tablets, some of them were being operated by one person at the same time.

RAYBURN: Well, since I have to cover the stream media industry, I watched it on every device it was available on.

MCEVERS: Wow.

RAYBURN: I watched it on Roku, Xbox, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and then TV as well. Some of them did better than the others.

MCEVERS: OK.

RAYBURN: CBS definitely had problems on Apple TV. The app wouldn't load. The cbssports.com website wasn't loading for a while with timeout errors. So they had a good stream on some devices and others that failed miserably.

MCEVERS: What does it mean that CBS has decided to put the Super Bowl out there this way?

RAYBURN: It doesn't mean much, to be honest with you. There's way too much hype over something like putting a live sporting event online because we've been doing this for 20 years. You know, it's typical. Like we saw with CBS, they come out, pat themselves on the back and say it's a record, and then they give us no metrics or demographics afterwards of who watched what for how long or how much money they made from the ads. And we don't even know if this was a moneymaking thing for them online, which it probably was not. They probably lost money.

MCEVERS: So then what's their motivation for doing it?

RAYBURN: That's a great question. I wish CBS would answer that.

(LAUGHTER)

RAYBURN: What is their motivation? Do they make money - no.

MCEVERS: So is it just, like, so they can just feel like they're being cool and, like, make it look like they're keeping up with the times?

RAYBURN: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's the Super Bowl, so you have to go to your advertisers and say, OK, well, you know, in addition to spending all this money on the TV spot, we're going to give you some digital exposure. They kind of have to do it. Otherwise, people just make fun of them.

MCEVERS: Well, I mean, I guess the big question here is, is this the future of watching these things? I mean, there's obviously an advantage to CBS for us to watch these things online because they can get more data about us when we do, right?

RAYBURN: Yes and no. Yes, you can get a little bit of more data, but the problem you have is the fragmentation in the market. So for instance, if you wanted to watch it on mobile yesterday, you can only do so if you were a Verizon customer. So this is not the future for large-scale live events. The internet broadcast, whether it's live or on-demand - that can't replace TV distribution at the same quality, the same scale and the same reliability. The technology just doesn't support it.

MCEVERS: Yeah, I mean, if you think about HBO, though - right? - 10 years ago, you never would've thought HBO would've had some sort of online component. And now, you know, the industry has sort of forced it to do that. It's got to be available to people online sort of a la carte. You can get it even if you don't have a TV.

RAYBURN: Yes, and that's the type of content that works really well online. HBO has a limited amount of content. They don't have a huge catalog, but the catalog they have is very popular.

MCEVERS: Right.

RAYBURN: And everything they do is on demand.

MCEVERS: Right.

RAYBURN: That's very different than doing live sports.

MCEVERS: Right, right, right, right, right. So it sounds like we're going to be stuck with our TVs for a while when it comes to live sporting events.

RAYBURN: Yeah, see; absolutely. TV's not going away. Cord cutting is not taking place like people talk about. We know what the numbers are. So cable TV is not being replaced anytime soon.

MCEVERS: Dan Rayburn is executive vice president at streamingmedia.com. Thank you so much.

RAYBURN: Thank you.

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