As an avid sports fan without a big-screen television or sharp HD channel quality, I was excited to hear that Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants would be available to live stream on computers and mobile devices on nbcsports.com. For the first time ever, a Super Bowl is combining a big-time event from the traditional media format of live television with a new media live online viewing experience on the internet. Given the precedence of this groundbreaking take, I decided to watch Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Super Bowl XLVI via the live stream.
NBC is no stranger to streaming NFL games live. Soon after airing "Sunday Night Football" at the start of the 2005 season, NBC has provided live streams to football games at no charge. While it's not the exact same experience as traditional television viewing, NBC provides a different viewing experience with different advertisements, a sidebar for statistics and social media following, and various camera views not always found during the game.
In this day and age of technology and media forms transitioning to incorporate television programming on the internet, this stream works out great for people looking to save money and lose their cable bill. While not all sporting events are available for free on the internet, with more television channels providing content online (NBC, ESPN, various primetime programming on Hulu, and other websites for channels), watching television programming online is a great alternative to save money and watch shows when you're available.
As for my viewing experience of Super Bowl XLVI, the first aspect I noticed was the small but noticeable advertisement bar on the top of the screen for the NBC show "Smash" or Chevy trucks. A stationary ad that does not change for most of the game, it's not distracting at all and doesn't take away from the very good stream provided by NBC. While the quality of stream does vary based on a viewer's internet strength, the picture was quite sharp and slightly better than typical non-HD viewing.
As with every Super Bowl, advertisements are sometimes the primary, or only, reason why viewers watch the game. While there is a tab on the screen for viewers to watch any commercial after it airs, the sometimes-anticipated commercials are not actually shown during regular commercial breaks. Instead, viewers who choose not to pick their own commercials received a heavy dose of the same ads over and over again.
Instead of seeing the creative commercials by Doritos or Coca-Cola, there was a continuous loop of the same commercials for GE, "Act of Valor," Budweiser, and Samsung. Unique to the stream was an interactive ad for Chevy featuring Rainn Wilson which gave viewers a sneak peak of the Chevy ad before it was shown to the normal Super Bowl television audience. While this option may be great for people who are only there for the game, the lack of commercials automatically flowing with the whole Super Bowl experience did not work for this viewer.
All in all, this first in television/internet merging may start a trend with other major televised sporting events. First the Super Bowl and later the World Series and NBA Finals, television corporations may see the benefits to showing these big games on both platforms to gain more viewership and appease advertisers. With Super Bowl XLVII on CBS next year, viewers will need to wait and see whether they will follow the social and new media trend and also provide a live stream to the Super Bowl.
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Austin Chang is a lifelong football fan, San Francisco 49ers supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.