Super Bowl LIII set streaming records, while TV viewership saw massive drop

Football fans didn’t tune into this year’s Super Bowl coverage on TV in as large numbers as in years past. According to Nielsen, the big game drew an average televised audience of around 98.2 million viewers. CBS, however, said the big game was watched across all platforms – including digital and streaming – by a […]

Football fans didn’t tune into this year’s Super Bowl coverage on TV in as large numbers as in years past. According to Nielsen, the big game drew an average televised audience of around 98.2 million viewers. CBS, however, said the big game was watched across all platforms – including digital and streaming – by a combined total of 100.7 million viewers. In addition, the streaming coverage of the game broke new records this year, which helped to make up for the TV audience decline.

The network said the streamed event was watched across 7.5 million unique devices, up more than 20 percent from last year. Streaming viewers watched over 560 million total hours of live game coverage, up more than 19 percent from 2017. And the average minute audience of 2.6 million viewers during the game window was up over 31 percent year-over-year.

The live stream’s record-breaking numbers were aided by the fact that the stream itself was available unauthenticated across CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports app, NFL.com, the NFL app, and Verizon mobile properties – including Yahoo Sports, Yahoo, AOL, AOL Sports, and Tumblr. (Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Verizon.)

The live stream was also made available on CBS’s subscription streaming service, CBS All Access, which saw a record number of new subscriber sign-ups, unique viewers and time spent on Super Bowl Sunday – following the service’s recent record-breaking weekend attributed to the Season 2 premiere of Star Trek: Discovery and the AFC Championship Game.

CBS All Access sign-ups were up 84+ percent on Super Bowl Sunday, while unique viewers were up over 46 percent, and time spent was up over 76 percent, CBS said.

Streaming, combined with TV viewers and CBS digital properties like CBS Interactive, NFL digital properties, Verizon Media mobile properties, and ESPN Deportes TV and digital properties, brought the total audience to 100.7 million, as noted above. But 149.0 million watched the game either all or in part (meaning they watched at least 6 minutes of the TV broadcast), according to Nielsen data cited by CBS.

However, Nielsen also pointed out that TV viewership saw a massive drop this year for what was generally thought to be a pretty boring game (and boring halftime show.)

According to the measurement firm’s preliminary results released Monday evening, the telecast of Super Bowl LIII on CBS drew an average TV audience of about 98.2 million viewers.

That’s down 5 percent from last year, when 103.4 million people watched the Super Bowl on NBC, and a 12 percent drop from 2017’s game on Fox. The New York Times noted, attributing the declines to the forgettable game, New Orleans fans tuning out, NFL boycotts over Colin Kaepernick’s treatment, and other factors. It’s also the smallest TV audience since 2008, when the Giants beat the Patriots.

 

The Super Bowl gets voice-enabled

Amazon, Dish, Comcast and others are hoping to turn Super Bowl 2019 into a way to show off the potential for their voice technologies and TV integrations. The companies this week have been touting new features and a variety of voice commands that will allow viewers to get prepared for the big game, learn about […]

Amazon, Dish, Comcast and others are hoping to turn Super Bowl 2019 into a way to show off the potential for their voice technologies and TV integrations. The companies this week have been touting new features and a variety of voice commands that will allow viewers to get prepared for the big game, learn about players and teams, tune into NFL news and highlights, set their recordings, and more.

In some cases, this may be as simple as asking your TV to tune to the Super Bowl, record the event, or get more information about the game, as is the case with Dish. Customers can press the button on their Dish voice remote, then say “Super Bowl” or “Super Bowl 53” to watch, find information or record the game, the company says.

Comcast and Amazon are taking things further, however.

Comcast’s Xfinity X1 customers can now use their voice remote to get the latest stats, get pre-game news and post-game highlights, or even turn on an app that tracks real-time stats on the screen during the big game.

For example, X1 customers can say “Tom Brady vs. Jared Goff,” “The Patriots vs. the Rams,” “Show me Julian Edelman,” “Show me Rams leaders,” and other sorts of commands to get stats on teams or to learn about the players. They can also say “Super Bowl” or “NFL” to be taken to news and highlights, or say “X1 Sports app” to launch the stat-tracking feature on their TV screen.

Smart home users with Xfinity Home can even turn their lighting to their favorite team’s colors by saying”Xfinity Home, go Patriots!” or “go Rams!,” as desired.

Alexa’s Super Bowl feature set, is more robust, offering the ability to ask for trivia and quizzes, background on the players and teams, stats, jokes and burns, track the odds, get historical data, and more.

These sorts of questions can range from the basic – like, “where is the Super Bowl this year?” – to the more complex, like “what is the Patriots yards per carry this season?” or “how many times has Tom Brady been to the Super Bowl?”

You can also ask Alexa for a Super Bowl quiz, fact, or past game recaps, in addition to more informational questions. Alexa can give you football jokes and “burns,” too.

What was surprising was that some of the stat-related questions Alexa could answer herself weren’t answered on Google Home, when asked the same way – for example, the above years per carry question, and number of Super Bowls that Tom Brady has seen.

Both Alexa and Google Assistant will give you their own opinion on who they want to win, however. Google says it’s cheering for the underdog, the Rams. Alexa says as much as she wants to cheer for the Rams, she thinks the Patriots will win.

 

Carbon is 3D printing custom football helmet liners for Riddell

Just in time to ride the last of the pre-Super Bowl buzz, Carbon today announced that it’s teaming up with sports equipment giant Riddell to 3D print customized football helmet padding. Referred to as “Diamond technology,” the collaboration creates lattice design pads of resin that are custom built to a player’s dimensions and position. Carbon […]

Just in time to ride the last of the pre-Super Bowl buzz, Carbon today announced that it’s teaming up with sports equipment giant Riddell to 3D print customized football helmet padding.

Referred to as “Diamond technology,” the collaboration creates lattice design pads of resin that are custom built to a player’s dimensions and position. Carbon says the pads were created by analyzing data from more than five million on-field collisions collected by Riddell smart helmets.

“We scan heads, and then you’ve got the shell of the helmet,” Carbon co-founder and CEO Joseph DeSimone told TechCrunch. “The gap between the head and the shell is now customized. That space is now custom to everybody, and we fill that space with a lattice that controls the impact of the sport. It allows you to get really great performance as you control the impact that the players see.”

The technology arrives as the health impacts of football are receiving stronger scrutiny. The repetitive nature of football hits has been tied to a number of unfortunate side effects, including, notably, CTE. A recent study found that the dementia-causing condition was found in 110 out of 111 brains of autopsied football players. 

“As someone who’s spent thousands of hours watching film, I know that no two players play the same way,” quarterback and Riddell spokesperson Peyton Manning said in a release tied to the news. “They all have different styles and tendencies on the field, which is another key benefit to Riddell’s Diamond technology. With the SpeedFlex Precision Diamond, players are not only experiencing the latest in head protection, they can also dictate where the helmet is positioned to improve sight lines and maximize field vision.”

The customized helmets will be made available for pro and college level athletes later this year. They’ll be printed using the L1, a newly announced printer designed for manufacturing that brings the company’s Digital Light Synthesis technology to a larger scale. The L1 has 10 times the build area as its predecessor, the M1 and five times the M2 (that’s “M” for “Medium” and “L” for “Large, by the way).

The advent of the new printer could go a ways toward helping Carbon realize its goal of bringing this technology to a manufacturing-level scale. Of course, the company’s already got a decent head start on that front, having produced 100,000 pairs of mid-soles through its ongoing partnership with Adidas.

Amazon’s Thursday Night Football live stream will feature real-time stats, Amazon.com shopping

Amazon is taking full advantage of its deal to live stream Thursday Night Football games, which it snagged the rights to earlier this year. The company will this year launch a TNF pre-game show, co-stream the games on its video game streaming site Twitch, and will leverage Prime Video’s “X-Ray” technology to give viewers access to real-time stats, […]

Amazon is taking full advantage of its deal to live stream Thursday Night Football games, which it snagged the rights to earlier this year. The company will this year launch a TNF pre-game show, co-stream the games on its video game streaming site Twitch, and will leverage Prime Video’s “X-Ray” technology to give viewers access to real-time stats, team info, and the ability to shop for team merchandise on Amazon.com.

X-Ray for Prime Video typically offers viewers information about cast and characters in a TV program or movie, as well as info about the music and, sometimes, additional trivia.

In the case of TNF, however, the focus will be on the players and teams.

With the start of the games today, September 27, at 8:20 PM ET, X-Ray on Prime Video will debut a new experience across Fire TV devices, including Fire TV Cube, 4K, Fire TV, and Fire TV Stick, which will give fans live stats and player information, without taking them away from the action.

Instead, viewers will be able to push the “up” button the Fire TV remote to see information like Game Leaders and Team Stats to track top players rushing, passing, receiving, and more. They can deep dive into a favorite team through the new “Teams” tab to learn facts like who owns the team, or how many Super Bowls they’ve won, among other things.

The X-Ray feature will also display real-time play stats and history, available through a “Play History” tab.

While these options are largely repurposing Amazon’s X-Ray feature and putting it to use for sports, the “Shop” option takes things a step further.

Amazon will now allow U.S. viewers to shop its site via X-Ray for things like team hats, t-shirts and other gear – all right from the TV screen.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has tried to blend TV viewing with shopping. It also launched a TV app in the past and even tried a watch-while-you-shop show, Style Code Live, which it later canned. During this year’s Prime Day, it ran QVC-style videos for selected products. But X-Ray isn’t typically used for shopping.

Also new this year to the stream is the option for all-female audio commentary from sports journalists Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm. Amazon said this is the first time two women commentators have covered an NFL game in its entirety.

The option will be joined by others, including a Fox Sports commentary from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, plus a Spanish-language feed, and a U.K. English feed.

Meanwhile, over on Twitch (which Amazon owns), the game will be live-streamed on the Prime Video channel, where it will include interactive extensions.

Instead of X-Ray, there will be an overlay featuring similar real-time stats, including NFL standings and team stat pages.

Viewers will aso be able to chat using NFL emojis (Twitch’s emotes), that include team logos and other Twitch originals, like those for touchdowns, flags, catching and running with the ball, and more.

The popular Twitch streamer GoldGlove will also co-stream the game with his own commentary on September 27.

Amazon and Twitch will stream 11 TNF games this season across over 200 countries, starting tonight with Vikings vs. Rams at 8:20 PM ET, following the pre-show at 7:15 PM ET.