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Super Bowl LI Attracts 7M Streaming Viewers, 108M for Broadcast
Fox Sports streamed the Super Bowl without authentication to 7 million viewers, but a fourth quarter app snafu marred a perfect game.

Super Bowl LI wasn't just a win for the New England Patriots, but for online video, as well. According to online video advertising company Alphonso this was the most-watched Super Bowl ever, with 7 million people tuning into Fox Sports' unauthenticated online stream and 108 million watching the broadcast feed. Not all streamers were happy, however: Awful Announcing reports the Fox Sports Go app crashed for several minutes during the fourth quarter, leaving viewers frustrated.

The game saw two large spikes to viewer tune-in, notes Alphonso, the first just before the first quarter and the second at the end of the game when the Patriots scored their game-winning touchdown.

For the day's other big competition, Alphonso says Avocados from Mexico had the most-viewed ad. Next up were ads by Fox APB, Michelin, and Skittles.

“Super Bowl 2017 was exceptional in many ways: The first Super Bowl to go into overtime (not to mention an amazing comeback), and also the first truly digital Super Bowl with over 7 million streaming viewers," says Ashish Chordia, CEO and co-founder of Alphonso. "The viewership on streaming doubled from the year before, however not without scaling pains. As is expected, the ads on Super Bowl 2017’s stream were not the anticipated Super Bowl ads and many consumers were disappointed.”

Fox Sports offered custom digital ad insertions for 170 participating affiliates this year, a Super Bowl first. That meant that in supported markets streaming viewers saw ads specific to their affiliate. However, that was only for slots already marked for local ads; both broadcast and streaming viewers saw the same national ads. Looking at Twitter feedback, it sounds like international viewers saw blue screens during some or all of the ad breaks, and that's what Chordia experienced.

This year, viewers preferred "lighthearted, relatable entertainment over heavy emotion, messaging, and controversial topics," says video analytics company Ace Metrix. According to its audience ratings, Ford, Audi, and King's Hawaiian delivered the most appealing Super Bowl ads. Ace also pointed out several game ad flops, saying 84 Lumber failed by requiring viewers go online to see the rest of the ad, and Snickers' first-ever live spot would actually have benefited from higher viewer frequency.

“The country has been through an endless political food fight for more than a year and it appears that the largest television viewing audience was anxious for some relief, rather than more preaching, and most brands gauged that mood correctly,” says Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

Content delivery network Fastly notes that its customers with Super Bowl ads saw average traffic increases of 437 percent during the game, with Audi seeing a 1,880 percent increase.

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