Super Bowl a Streaming Hit, While Regular TV Viewership Plummets to 16-Year Low

Super Bowl LV was a hit on streaming video, with a record 5.7 million viewers per minute, up 69% from 3.4 million in Super Bowl LIV.

When combining all platforms, including CBS All Access, streaming on Verizon, NFL Digital Properties and ESPN Deportes TV and digital properties, the game drew 96.4 million multiplatform viewers, the lowest since 2007.

CBS used the game as a promotional boost for new detective series “The Equalizer,” starring Queen Latifah. The series generated 20.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-sports TV show of the year. That was still down 14% from the 23.7 million who watched “The Masked Singer” last year on Fox.

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But on regular TV, it was a different story. The NFL had its marquee player Tom Brady competing for a record seventh Super Bowl win. But, despite the hype and Brady guiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-9 victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, the telecast was a bust for those keeping ratings score.

About 90.5 million people watched the game on CBS — the lowest broadcast rating since 2005. Last year’s Super Bowl LIV on Fox Sports generated 100 million network viewers. Despite the drop-off, the Super Bowl remains the most-watched television show of the year.

Report: Super Bowl LV Household Viewership Down 15%

While Tom Brady receives much of the attention for winning his seventh Super Bowl, and becoming only the second QB to win it for two different franchises, viewership for the Feb. 7 NFL title game won by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9 over the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla., and all of its associated programming, was down 15% year-over-year, according to new data from Samba TV.

Samba TV tracks viewer recommend program data — called Automatic Content Recognition — from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States.

The company said 32 million households tuned in on Sunday night, down from 37.6 in 2020. Pre-game show viewership was down 13%; the halftime show featuring musical act The Weeknd was down 14%; and the interview with President Joe Biden was down 13%.

Separately, Comscore said initial Super Bowl TV ratings were flat, while NFL Conference Championship games were up 10%.

The lower ratings would be the latest challenge for the NFL after its pandemic-addled season, as teams throughout the league dealt with COVID-19 infections, quarantines and empty stadiums.

Household tune-ins were down throughout the playoffs and the marquee Sunday and Monday night games, according to Samba TV. Two weeks ago, households viewing the AFC and NFC Conference Championship games were down 15% and 17%, respectively, while each game in the divisional round was down 20% to 23%, and the Wild Card weekend games were down 21% to 30%.

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Boston, home of plenty of Tom Brady fans, was the market that over-indexed the most, followed by Kansas City and then Tampa.

Samba said viewership of the game increased a bit during the first 30 mins of the game (when the score was still close), and held pretty steady until around halftime, when viewership dropped a bit.

Household tune-in mostly recovered after halftime, but then there was a steady decrease afterward nationwide and in Kansas City. Not surprisingly, Tampa’s viewership held pretty steadily at the end of halftime through the end of the game as the team’s double-digit lead became insurmountable.

FuboTV Betting Big on Next Year’s Super Bowl LVI

If sports gambling has a national holiday, it’s the annual Super Bowl. Americans are expected to will legally bet more than $500 million on Sunday’s Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs nationwide, up 67% from the estimated $300 million wagered in 2020, according to PlayUSA. Overall, the American Gaming Association estimates Americans bet $6.8 billion on last year’s Super Bowl.

Upstart sports-themed online TV service FuboTV is eyeing sports gambling as a point of differentiation from online TV heavyweights Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV and Sling TV. The New York-based service plans to launch an interactive sports gambling book later this year — a move Disney’s sports-themed SVOD ESPN+ is considering as well.

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FuboTV, which launched an IPO in 2020, entered 2021 with about 545,000 subscribers paying from $65 monthly for access to more than 100 channels, including 40 sports-themed. The 6-year-old service last year acquired Balto Sports, a backend developer of fantasy sports gaming software. Last month, FuboTV expanded to live sports by acquiring Vigtory, an interactive sports gaming company.

“FuboTV can go places where [Disney and Google-owned YouTube TV] can’t,” The Motley Fool’s Rick Munarriz wrote last month. “It can also turn on the spigot of sports gambling without raising eyebrows the way that Google or Disney would if they decided to rip a page out of fuboTV’s playbook.”

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angles, remains bullish on fuboTV, upping his share price target to $50 from $40. The analyst contends the service’s live sports content is a win for consumers and investors.

“FuboTV is a real company,” Pachter told CNBC. “There’s a lot of pessimism that they can’t stand out [among online TV players]. In fact, they have more sports programming than anybody. And what makes that a huge advantage is that [pay-TV] cord cutters are looking for live sports content.”

Pachter said FuboTV continues to draw advertising revenue streaming Italian, Spanish and British professional soccer in the U.S.

“Their ad ARPU (average ad revenue per user) goes from $6 to $12; the company is talking $20,” the analyst said. “That will get them to profitability in a couple of years.”

 

 

 

Verizon Lost 298,000 Fios Video Subs in 2020

It may be a 5G future for Verizon, but the reality for the telecom’s Fios Video pay-TV service is ongoing subscriber losses. The company Jan. 26 reported 72,000 Fios Video net losses in the fourth-quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2020, reflecting the ongoing consumer shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings. Verizon lost 298,000 Fios Video subs in 2020 to finish the year with 3.85 million.

That compared with video losses of 51,000 and 225,000 in the previous Q4 quarter and fiscal year in 2019, respectively.

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Like other pay-TV operators, Verizon’s silver lining in the pay-TV subscriber exodus is ongoing growth in Fios high-speed Internet. While consumers covet Netflix & Co., they still need to pay a third party to get the services into their homes. Verizon added 92,000 broadband subs in Q4, 300,000 subs in 2020.

That compared with gains of 35,000 and 131,000 high-speed Internet subs, respectively, in 2019. Verizon ended 2020 with more than 6.2 million broadband subs.

“2020 was marked by transformational change, including the launch of our 5G nationwide network,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

Verizon once again is the exclusive mobile video streamer of upcoming Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay, Fla. The telecom also renewed its distribution agreement with Disney, affording wireless subs free 12-month access to Disney+ SVOD service.

“We are excited to lead technological advances beyond mobile devices, and create new opportunities for growth across multiple industries,” Vestberg said.