For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl was streamed online for viewers in the US. While many might think the big game might cause big demand on fixed access networks, the truth is while everyone is watching the game on their television they are actually giving the network a break from usage.
Last year we dubbed this phenomena, “The Super Dip”, and as you can see in the chart below (taken from an eastern US network), overall network usage was down roughly 15% during the game once again.
At Sandvine’s we’ve long maintained that the biggest screen is always the best screen to consume content, and for the Super Bowl it makes sense that most people would prefer to watch the game on their large HDTV. Since the only option to stream the game was via a web browser, getting the game streaming to their TV would have been a challenge for most people, so unsurprisingly viewers opted to tune in via their cable or satellite provider (in record numbers).
For cord cutters or those not near a TV however, the CBS stream would have been their only legitimate option, and thanks to the demand from these users the Super Bowl stream accounted for over 3% of total network traffic for the evening.
Interestingly, much like we observed during the Olympics, specific events in the game can drive spikes in usage. The chart below maps observed spikes in Super Bowl streaming traffic with that of major in game events. The big highlights from the game look to be the opening kick-off and the San Francisco 49ers final drive to try and win the game.
Sandvine’s traffic statistics have shown continued growth in adoption of live streamed sports events, but for the time being it is no threat to replace viewing via traditional broadcast methods. It is clear however that live streaming is only going to get more popular, and if free streaming is being provided for the biggest television event of the year, then users will soon start expecting it to be offered for everything they watch.