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Miss the Big Game? Stream the Ads

As tense and uneventful as the first three quarters of the Super Bowl were, followed by made-for-TV drama in the fourth quarter, one might be forgiven for missing a significant portion of the commercials to stock up on snacks or catch up on trash-talking friends not at your Super Bowl viewing party.

Fortunately, if you missed some of the year's best ads—which were the "best" is all up to your sense of taste and fun—Fox Sports was happy to repeat multiple times throughout the game that you could catch up on the ads at www.myspace.com/superbowlads. What's this? Fox is pushing viewers online and away from their new HDTV sets? Welcome to the Super Bowl, streaming media style.

The MySpace account mentioned is skinned nicely with a Super Bowl theme and already has, as of 8 a.m. the morning after the Super Bowl, 83,244 friends. Ads are categorized in sequence, according to quarter, allowing you to see, for instance, that the E*Trade baby hurled in the first commercial and then hired a clown in the second one. The video playback, while in a small window framed like an HDTV, is very good quality and appears to be H.264, giving the ads a QuickTime movie trailers feel. Favorite ads can be added to your profile, if you already have or sign up for a MySpace account.

The official site isn't the only one putting up the ads. By the time I got home from watching the game with my teenage daughter—who was as interested in how the spidercam overhead camera and graphics technology worked—I'd already received emails from several people with links to YouTube versions of their favorite commercials. Of course, as a native New Yorker who also works a significant amount in Boston, the messages also contained various sentiments about one team or the other, although everyone seemed in agreement that it was one of the better Super Bowl games they'd seen.

Hulu.com, owned by Fox and NBC and still in beta, also streamed the commercials at www.hulu.com/superbowl, although viewing them required signing up for a Hulu.com beta account, unlike the MySpace offering that allowed anyone to view the ads. The site's blog did have three commercials available, including the one where Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade floats fight over a Coca-Cola bottle, at blog.hulu.com.

Keynote, the testing and measurement company, also got into the act. As they have for the last several years, Keynote's Competitive Research group analyzed the technical quality—including responsiveness and reliability—of what it called "four leading mobile sports Web sites, three popular sites streaming Super Bowl commercials, and 35 of the Super Bowl advertiser’s Web sites."

Keynote wanted to see the impact during the game of whether the commercials drove site traffic. Prior to the game, comScore said 75% of its pre-game survey respondents said they would log in on game day, including 30% during the game itself. While most of these respondents said they would be "looking for stats and stories related to the game," comScore also said 13% said they’d log on to watch Super Bowl ads after the game.

"There seems to be a greater inclination to access advertisers' content online, which highlights the increasing importance of a cross-media advertising strategy," says Andrew Lipman, comScore senior analyst. We're curious to see the online impact over the week after the event, so we'll follow up and mention this during next week's podcast. In the meantime, if you're interested in reliving the highlights of the game, don't forget to go to one of the other sites streaming game highlights: www.nfl.com/superbowl.

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