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Super Bowl Stream Nets 4.42M Uniques

The live stream of Super Bowl LI drew more viewers than last year’s big game, but those numbers still trail traditional TV viewership by a wide margin.

Fox said its free, nonauthenticated live stream of the overtime thriller between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons delivered an “average minute audience” of 1.72 million, up 23% from last year’s average of 1.4 million. That was also a 224% boost from Fox’s live stream of Super Bowl XLVIII in 2013.

The network also confirmed that the live stream pulled in 4.42 million unique viewers, ahead of the 3.96 million unique viewers that streamed CBS’s coverage of Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

The free, live stream for Super Bowl LI was offered on a wide range of platforms, including, the Fox Sports Go app on tablets and supported connected devices, on smartphones through Verizon Wireless (NFL Mobile and go90) and via the NFL app on Xbox One.

While the numbers show greater adoption of OTT for watching the action on the NFL ’s grandest stage, they still trail traditional TV viewing, as 111.3 million tuned into Fox’s TV broadcast of Super Bowl LI, with 70% of U.S. homes with TVs in use that were tuned to the telecast. But the results were ahead of MGID’s survey finding that about 16% of consumers were planning to stream Super Bowl LI.

Fox’s live stream appeared to hold up fairly well under the stress, despite a temporary technical hiccup that surfaced in the game’s fourth quarter.

Fox went to some new lengths to prepare for an online onslaught, as it tapped three content delivery network partners (Akamai, Level 3 Communications and Limelight Networks) for the live Super Bowl stream (Fox typically uses two CDNs for the Fox Sports Go app).

Fox also used a less-complicated configuration for Super Bowl LI to help it accommodate the support of local ad insertion for its TV-network affiliates.

Fox also tightened the bit rate collar for the stream. It usually sets it at 5 Mbps/60 frames per second for some devices, but reduced it to 3.5 Mbps and 30 frames per second, providing enough capacity to generate a 720p HD signal of the game.