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The Super Bowl Breaks a Streaming Record

The game drew its biggest Web audience, ever.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The Super Bowl isn’t meant to be streamed, but there are a lot of people who want to stream the Super Bowl, anyway. And this year there were more than ever: CBS says the Broncos victory over the Panthers had a “record audience” streaming the game.

What does that mean in numbers? CBS won’t say, for now. But here are the numbers NBC recorded when it streamed the game a year ago, and also said it broke records: 800,000 average viewers per minute, 1.3 million concurrent users and 213 million total minutes.

Let’s assume, for now, that CBS eclipsed all those numbers. That wouldn’t be a surprise, since TV and video experts assumed that the streaming audience for the game would top last year’s. (UPDATE: Here are the numbers.)

That’s in part because more people are comfortable streaming stuff, and in part because CBS made it easier to stream this year, by making the game available via “over the top” devices like Apple TV, Roku and Xbox One.

And, fairly predictably, there were problems with this year’s stream: At kick-off, many Apple TV owners (including this one) reported problems with CBS’s CBSSports app.

A CBS Twitter rep initially diagnosed the problem as specific to third-generation versions of the Web TV box, but the problems appeared to be more widespread than that (I’ve got a fourth-gen version of the box — the newest one — and had no luck as well).

The good news, for both CBS and for streamers, is that appeared to be the only major glitch during the game. Once CBS and/or Apple got the app working, about 20 minutes after kick-off, I streamed the game without incident, and the picture looked pretty darn good for the rest of the game. I never had to swap out of the app or reset my Apple TV box — things I often need to do even when I’m not streaming live sports.

Bonus: The game was good, and the ads weren’t bad, either. Particularly if you liked thinking about poop.

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