CBS May Be Super Bowl’s Biggest Ad Winner As Cross-Device Streaming Spikes

SizeStreamSomewhere between Drake’s turn for T-Mobile, Mountain Dew’s “Puppy Monkey Baby” and Anthony Hopkins shilling for, another brand scored: CBS, the exclusive network partner for Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 game.

Overnight ratings data from Nielsen indicated Sunday’s matchup was the second highest-rated Super Bowl in metered markets in the game’s history, while cross-device streaming far surpassed previous years.

That huge audience provided the network with ample opportunity to promote its programming and its support for mobile and over-the-top (OTT) streaming – which it did, extensively.

This year’s game reached an average total of 111.9 million viewers, peaking out at 115.5 million viewers during key game highlights, according to data based on Nielsen live and same-day Fast Ratings. By comparison, an average of 114.4 million viewers tuned into the 2015 game on NBC, topping out around 121 million viewers at peak moments.

The big stat: 4 million unique viewers streamed the game on desktop, mobile, tablets and connected TVs across CBS and NFL properties, which outpaced the number NBC reported last year – 2.5 million uniques. 

Average view time for those users was 101 minutes, while the average audience per minute was 1.4 million.

CBS was not the first network to live stream the big game. NBC took that title in 2012 and let viewers access last year’s game on and via the NFL app for Verizon’s mobile customers.

But Super Bowl 50 clearly supported more devices and platforms, despite consumer claims of latency in the first quarter: In addition to viewing live on CBS and, viewers could tune in via the CBS Sports App on select devices like Apple TV, Amazon FireTV, Roku, Chromecast and Xbox One. Other options included the NFL mobile app for Verizon subscribers and Verizon’s Go90 service.

And for the first time, national ads ran in the same spots on the broadcast and live stream, according to the network. (In recent years the stream has – appallingly, some thought – featured a tiny handful of non-frequency-capped ads in heavy rotation.)

CBS used its bully pulpit to strong advantage last night, running 31 promos for its programming. That’s 16% more network promos than NBC did last year, according to Tara Maitra, SVP and GM of content and media sales at TiVo.

One 30-second promo teased CBS All Access, CBS’ 16-month-old video subscription service, which lets customers watch old and new episodes of the network’s shows the day after they air.

Ironically, viewers couldn’t stream the game within CBS All Access due to a rights conflict between the NFL and CBS, so fans who attempted were guided to download the CBS Sports app or view the game at

For the first time last fall, CBS integrated its All Access service with over-the-top providers such as Apple TV. Although desktop streaming still outpaces OTT in terms of overall viewership for CBS, average time spent is higher on connected TV devices.

[Read more on CBS’s cross-platform video distribution efforts in AdExchanger’s recent feature on video ad serving in the cross-platform video arena.]

Some of CBS’ “house” ads that ran during Super Bowl 50:

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