Super Bowl Streaming Improves; Sites Rate the Top Online Ads

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CBS Sports delivered a win last night, as it provided strong buffer-free Super Bowl online streaming to viewers. That marked an improvement over NBC Sports' and Akamai's performance in 2015, which left many in the media howling about buffering and delays. While the online stream—available through browsers or various consoles and set-top boxes—didn’t offer any extras, it streamed the ads along with the game for the first time, giving online viewers an equivalent experience.

According to CBS Sports, the live stream attracted 3.96 million viewers who streamed a total of 402 million minutes of coverage, averaging 101 minutes each. Those viewers were able to access the stream from desktops, notebooks, tablets, connected TVs, and phones. That total is for the full event, which includes pre-game coverage. During the game only, CBS averaged 1.4 million viewers per minute who watched over 315 million minutes.

Akamai was the game's CDN, as it was last year. Other CDNs were on standby, but weren't needed. The Super Bowl was first streamed in 2012. Overnight TV ratings show this was the second-highest rated Super Bowl ever (last year's game set the record). In 2015, Akamai said it averaged 800,000 viewers per minute, with a peak performance of 1.3 million concurrent users.

The other big game last night was the contest to deliver the most watched and most engaging Super Bowl ad, one that people wanted to re-watch, share, and comment on.

This year's ads focused on humor and celebrity appearances, but felt tame compared to those from previous years, perhaps because brands wanted to avoid a costly misstep on a world stage.

Analytics company iSpot.tv looked at ad social actions and earned views, and declared Mountain Dew "PuppyMonkeyBaby," Hyundai "First Date," and T-Mobile "Drop the Balls" the top ads. The Hyundai spot featured Kevin Hart and the T-Mobile starred Steve Harvey. Celebs dominated other tops ads, including Ryan Reynolds for Hyundai, Drake for T-Mobile, and Helen Mirren for Budweiser. Game day ads were viewed 476 million times online, iSpot.tv reported, with 62.4 million occurring yesterday. Facebook streamed more of them than YouTube (34 million versus 20 million) showing that Facebook is stronger for buzz-worthy video events.

The measurement specialists at Visible Measures say the top ads were Wix.com "#StartStunning," Hyundai "The Chase," and Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl." It notes a 64 percent increase in online ad views for the top 10 ads compared to 2015. Visible Measures looks at views through 600,000 web and mobile properties.

According to TiVo, which measuring viewing on its DVRs, Doritos "Ultrasound," Mountain Dew "PuppyMonkeyBaby," and Taco Bell Quesalupa "Bigger Than Everything" were the night's winners.

Article updated with streaming stats 3:30 ET.

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