The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 3, 2013

Today’s viewers chose from among several options


DANVILLE — Julie and Teyler Neier are having a friend record today’s Super Bowl via DVR. They have prior plans at their church, and the pizza and wings will have to wait.

Speaking of wings, a big crowd is expected to gather at Buffalo Wild Wings and watch the big game.

Cashier Latonya Martin said it’ll be like a big party, where the watchers at “Bdubs” can take their pick of any of the numerous TV screens for which there is no end … zone?

Others will tune in to watch Super Bowl XLVII not only via cable or satellite service but streamed live on the Internet.

The significance about the Super Bowl being streamed online today is that it’s a “relic” from the ’60s, said James Hay, TV studies professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Hay said the Super Bowl was born at point in the ’60s where it was a shared common event for everyone — “those old days of TV when TV was cast to the broadest possible audience.”

“Since then (it has been) about narrow casting and then in the 21st century, individualizing and personalizing that even further.”

Today will be the second time the Super Bowl will be streamed live online. Besides the game, CBS Sports promises extra bells and whistles to accompany the avid sports fan’s viewing experience.

Those who want the “second-screen” experience will be able to “click in” here:

Last year, the NFL and NBC reported that the first-ever live stream of a Super Bowl in the U.S. was the “most-watched single-game sports event ever online.” The groups reported more than 2 million unique users.

Perhaps that should come as no surprise. For multiple years, the Super Bowl has garnered highest honors in traditional television viewership. Nielsen reports 111.3 million people tuned in to watch it on broadcast and cable.

This year, CBS will handle broadcasting a favorite American pastime.

In response to an inquiry about what the online audience might look like this year, CBS Public Relations Manager Annie Rohrs said via e-mail that “we are not releasing traffic expectations for the live stream (for Super Bowl XLVII.)”

TV over time

Hay, who has taught TV studies for about 26 years, noted the current trend is one where viewers interact with shows.

“The Super Bowl is a great example of a kind of program from the past … that has been reinvented in the 21st century during a time in which the trend is more toward interactivity,” Hay said.

Hay said that the Super Bowl is, of course, an advertising event. He said the marketers and sponsors of the Super Bowl also feed into the culture of interactivity, encouraging consumers to go online and engage with features there.

(This year, CBS claims the commercials will be available online right after they air.)

Hay gave a brief overview of the different “media generations” over time:

The period of broadcasting started in the 1950s, he said.

“The old way of watching television in the ’50s-’70s was at your home.”

Then, during the ’80s and ’90s, cable and satellite became normalized.

Hay said “the cable TV gave you a remote control device which allowed you to switch (channels) more quickly” without getting up. He said the VCR was also born in the 1980s.

“Gradually that old model of TV — delivering a program … according to a time schedule (where you) have to be there when the program is on — that, began to morph into time-switching.”

Time-switching is when one can watch a TV show after-the-fact, at a time that is convenient.

“The ’80s was that period when you had that explosion of TV channels,” Hay added. “Advertisers were worried. No longer was the consumer sitting there like a couch potato. Increasingly, the viewer becomes able to customize the programming for her his own schedule.”

The communal aspect was still alive, though. Hay said one thing that appeared right before the 21st century was the sports bar as an option for viewers.

Recently, nearly two-thirds of avid sports fans said they caught games at bars or restaurants besides watching them on TV in their home, according to Nielsen.

Then arrives the 21st century — “when TV gets connected to the web, interactive features,” Hay said.

“Cable companies introduce on-demand options … menus of movies, TV shows. And that has just grown.”

Cable and satellite companies are not the only ones vying for viewers’ attention through on-demand options, though.

Program viewing is shifting to other devices, including tablets, smart phones and computers, according to Nielsen, a global media research company. These devices can then stream content from the Internet through a host of media outlets.

All this comes at the same time traditional TV viewing has decreased, Nielsen reports. Nielsen defines traditional TV viewing as watching live or time-shifted programming via broadcasts or paid television subscriptions.

Julie Neier, 25, is among those who have opted out of more traditional viewing.

“We had Dish Network for a few years, and in July of 2012, we cancelled it,” she said via phone interview.

Neier said her and her husband used to sleep through many programs, or they weren’t at home to watch them.

“I would watch them online afterward anyway.”

Super Bowl online

Today Neier’s husband, Teyler, 27, does not plan to tune in to the Super Bowl online as he plans to watch it afterward. For safety, he’s going to shut off his phone so he doesn’t receive any spoilers.

“(It will be) almost like watching it live but just a couple hours late,” he said.

For those planning to watch the live stream on the web, CBS Sports promises:

--A pop-up browser-based video console optimized for laptops, desktop computers and tablets; viewers can also hear announcers call the game.

--Four additional camera angles to allow fans to see the game from the perspective they choose.

--Visualizations of the most talked-about moments across social networks and a Twitter stream featuring commentary and Q&As; fans can be a part of the conversation on Twitter by using the official hashtag #CBSSuperBowl.

--An interactive gallery of the Super Bowl commercials, allowing viewers to watch the ads as they air on CBS Television Network and discuss them immediately on social networks.

--DVR functionality allowing viewers the option to re-watch moments.

--Real-time statistics and game highlights available during the broadcast.


Watch the game online here: