Watching The Super Bowl Online: A Review

By Danielle Dreilinger

Dec. 7, 2012

According to the Associated Press, Super Bowl XLVI was the most-watched television show in U.S. history, with an estimated 111.3 million viewers. But for geeks, the big excitement was outside the TV. For the first time, NBC live-streamed the entire game online. Along with the sports, NBC promised social media and the chance to watch the famous commercials.
So, how did it go? The response on Twitter lined up with what this reporter experienced at a Super Bowl party in Somerville, Mass. that had all the traditional fixings: chili, six-packs, giant flat-screen and squabbling cats ... just no television.

In short, the streaming video quality was remarkably high; however, the juiced-up online peripherals didn't live up to the hype. Sure, you could watch all the commercials — but only after they aired. Between drives, web watchers were subjected instead to a short roll call of ads that played over and over again. (Hey, did you know the Navy SEALs show features real Navy SEALs?)

The Twitter connection was restricted to two pre-selected NBC stars' accounts. Dear Jimmy Fallon:  If you know NBC will be displaying your Twitter feed to its web viewers for the entire game, you might want to tweet more than once an hour.

And most painfully — as we followed along on the non-restricted Twitter — we knew exactly how great a show we were missing when Madonna took the stage on the television ... but not online.

madonna show like kim il sung birthday party tweet

At least there was one consolation left: At the depressing end of the game, we had the fun of watching the halftime show. On YouTube.

Note: We asked NBC for traffic stats and an explanation for the different commercials and the lack of the Madonna performance. No response yet.

Sign Up

Sign-up for WGBH News updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.




Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor