Just as the New York Giants
pulled out a last-minute victory over the
New England Patriots, NBC’s telecast of
Super Bowl XLVI eked out a narrow win
to become the most-watched television
program in U.S. history.
The first-ever (legal) online video
stream of a Super Bowl also grabbed
NBC the trophy for biggest live-streaming
sports event ever.
Comcast-owned NBC’s coverage of Eli
Manning and the Giants’ 21-17 triumph
drew an average audience of 111.3 million.
That’s up 300,000 viewers from Fox’s
presentation of Super Bowl XVL last
year, according to Nielsen national data.
It also scored a record for Hispanic viewership,
with an average of 10.4 million.
The Feb. 5 telecast from Lucas Oil Stadium
in Indianapolis tackled a 47.0 rating
and 71 share, up from a 46.0 and 69
share from last year’s National Football
League title game.
The game was the highest-rated Super
Bowl in 26 years and the sixth highest of
all time, according to Nielsen.
The game recorded a 40.5 rating
among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49s, the best with that group
since a 41.2 for Super Bowl XXX in 1996.
Free Internet feeds on NBCSports.com and NFL.com attracted
2.1 million unique users in the U.S. Collectively, they
watched a total of 78 million minutes of the game on the Web,
according to data provided by Omniture and mDialog.
Some users complained about buff ering delays and poor
quality. Others were miffed they didn’t see
the same ads as the broadcast TV version —
and they were blocked from Madonna’s halftime
The Web telecast’s sponsors were General
Motors, Anheuser-Busch, Samsung, General
Electric and Relativity Media’s war flick
Act of Valor.
Water-cooler ads in the TV broadcast were
available on the NFL and NBC websites (and
numerous other online outlets) for replay.
Super Bowl XLVI video streams accounted
for 6.2% of all downstream broadband traffic
in the U.S. at 9 p.m. (ET) Sunday, according to
network-equipment vendor Sandvine.
Overall, U.S. Internet usage declined as
much as 20% versus an average Sunday —
a “Super Dip,” as users flocked to big-screen
Meanwhile, The Wire could find few if any
news reports of every cable operator’s worst
nightmare: a system outage on Super Bowl
Sunday. In Northern Virginia and Hampton
Roads, Va., “at least two dozen” Cox customers
reported getting only the Spanish-language
feed of the game, website Vienna Patch
said. Otherwise, outages seemed to be limited
to unfortunately timed power outages in
Torrance, Calif., and other places.
On Ads and Madonna,
Instead of Actual Game
OMG! This year’s Super Bowl was the biggest socialmedia
event on record, according to several independent
But most of the chit-chat wasn’t even about the gridiron
action. Almost three-quarters of the social “conversations”
related to the game or the TV broadcast
pertained to either the ads (42%) or Madonna’s halftime
aerobics (32%), according to social-media analysis firm
Just 2% of the comments were about the Giants taking
the title — versus 15% on Tom Brady and his pulchritudinous
wife, the firm found.
And apparently, not many people noticed when
performer M.I.A. flipped off NBC viewers at the half: She
had a measly 3% share of the show’s chatter. (The network
later apologized for not censoring the gesture.)
In any case, the social activity was off the charts for a
On Feb. 5, Wiredset’s Trendrr tracked 17.5 million social
interactions related to the Super Bowl on Facebook,
Twitter and other services, with 51% of the activity from
That’s more than triple the previous social-media
record holder for a single event, the 2011 MTV Music
(Disclosure: Trendrr provides data for Multichannel
News’ weekly “Buzz Meter” feature.)
Heaven knows what kind of twitteruption would have
happened if social media had been around for Janet
“Wardrobe Malfunction” Jackson in 2004.
Godspeed, NASA TV:
Voyage Into HD Galaxy
Reveals New Space Race
On Feb. 17, NASA TV’s public channel is going HD.
That is the free-to-operators channel that can arrest
surfers on their way to something else with video of a
space walk or a Hubble image or some other amazing
feat turned almost routine by familiarity and repetition
(and incredible scientific and technological ingenuity
The channel carries NASA mission coverage as well as
archival and special programming.
That announcement got The Wire to thinking that, with
the Space Shuttle scuttled and Newt Gingrich a presidential
long, long moon-shot away from being able to provide
new moon landing and construction video, just what
populates the channel?
Turns out a lot is still going on out there — in space
and on the channel — from the International Space
Station to a science laboratory on its way to Mars and
scheduled to land in August. Who knew?
In addition, according to a top producer at NASA TV, an
ongoing mission called IBEX is collecting data on the
interstellar boundary with deep space and discovered,
just last week, various minerals in the interstellar
spaces. Again, who knew?
In fact, the HD conversion will be just in time for NASA
TV to cover a NASA Future Forum event at Ohio State
University on Feb. 20. That event features John Glenn,
former senator (and always astronaut), marking the
50th anniversary of his Friendship 7 flight. Back then,
surfi ng meant clicking through four or five channels
by hand. And when a rocket was blasting off, nobody
touched that dial.
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