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More People Streamed the Super Bowl Than Ever Before. Here Are the Numbers:

Here are the numbers.

Al Bello / Getty
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.

Late last night, CBS announced it had streamed the Super Bowl to a “record” audience, but didn’t break out the numbers for the Broncos-Panthers.

Now we have some numbers that give us a pretty good sense of the growth of the game’s online audience. These don’t map exactly to the numbers we got last year from NBC, which broadcast and streamed the game, so you’ll have to bear with a little bit of apples and oranges. But here they are, via sources familiar with the game’s online performance:

  • Streamers watched 315 million minutes of game coverage.
  • An average of 1.4 million people streamed the game per minute.

Last year, NBC said it streamed 213 million minutes of coverage and averaged 800,000 people per minute. It also reported a concurrent peak of 1.3 million streamers — I don’t have a concurrent number for this year.

Here are some other numbers that give you a sense of scope:

  • Nearly four million unique viewers streamed some part of the pre-game, game or post-game coverage, and those viewers watched a total of 402 million minutes.
  • Those viewers didn’t just dip in, either: Average viewing time was 101 minutes.

That would seem to indicate a dramatic increase in streaming, which is probably true. But! The wrinkle is that this year’s numbers include both the audience that CBS reached, via its CBS Sports site and CBS Sports apps on platforms like Apple TV and Roku, as well as the two apps the NFL operates on its own — an NFL app for Verizon mobile customers and Xbox.

So it’s possible — but not very likely — that the Verizon and Xbox users account for much of the increase over last year’s numbers. I’ve asked CBS and the NFL for comment, but assume they won’t be interested in breaking them out.

If you want to get even more confused, you can try to map these numbers to the ones that Yahoo and the NFL reported last fall, when Yahoo streamed a low-stakes regular season NFL game and reported 15 million viewers. Two big differences: That Yahoo stream went worldwide, and the CBS and NFL numbers I have are for U.S. viewers; more importantly, Yahoo auto-played the game to anyone who visited its home page, as well as other high-traffic properties like Yahoo mail. If you wanted to watch last night’s game, you needed to go to the CBS Sports website or download an app.

Big picture: There’s a real — and growing — audience that wants to stream the Super Bowl, even if that doesn’t make a ton of sense. As long as broadcasters don’t think that audience is cutting into the audience that watches the game on TV, that’s a net plus for the TV guys. And, of course, the NFL.

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