Saturday, February 04, 2012

For the first time legitimately: how to watch Super Bowl XLVI online

On Thursday, the ICE division of DHS stomped out several illegal sports video streaming sites, ahead of Super Bowl XLVI. For the first time, however, if you want to watch the Super Bowl on the Internet, you don't need to use one of these sites; video streaming is legit for the 2012 Super Bowl.

Comcast's somewhat newly minted acquisition, NBC, will be streaming the Super Bowl live --- and free --- on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. Don't worry, NBC should have things well under control. SNF Extra, NBC Sports' video adjunct, has been streaming games since 2008, with the NFL's blessing.

This post-season is the first time any playoff games have been streamed, with the wild-card playoff round streamed live. NBC also streamed the Pro Bowl live, as well.

On both of those weekends, we took a quick look at the results of the streaming, on both a laptop using cable modem service and wi-fi over a home network, and a tablet PC running Android and watching the game via a Flash-enabled browser, once again using wi-fi.

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In both cases and with both different viewing options, the video was stutter-free and smooth. Of course, NBC will have many more viewers to deal with on Super Bowl Sunday.

With the potential of a huge online audience and the huge payoff for Super Bowl ads, why would Comcast and NBC choose to stream the Super Bowl for free? It's not because the companies are being kind. It's because there are two reasons someone would be watching online.

Reason one: they wouldn't have been able to watch it on TV anyway. So the fact that the ad that stream along with the game video will have much lower payoffs doesn't matter. In effect, it's a bonus.

Reason two: they're watching it on their couch with a tablet or laptop nearby, so they can watch the various extra camera angles and other bonuses that the Webcast will have, vs. the telecast. Once again, it's bonus viewing for NBC and parent company Comcast.

While legitimate video streaming of the Super Bowl will be a first at Super Bowl XLVI, there will be another first as well. Verizon will stream the Super Bowl to its NFL Mobile app, which is the first time the Super Bowl will be streamed live to mobile devices (both iOS and Android).

Those who don't have Verizon should still be able to view the video on a mobile device, if they have a Flash-enabled Web browser.

Finally, there's one other option for those who want to socialize at the same time they watch the game, without switching in and out of different windows. The Facebook app will allow users to watch the NBC feed while in Facebook. What better way to be able to taunt your Facebook friends, er, easily comment about it while watching it, too.

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 will be the first time the Super Bowl will be streamed live, either to PCs or mobile devices. We doubt it will be the last.

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