Super Bowl streaming online about dollars and sense for CBS

CBS is bucking the NFL's habit of being unwelcoming on the Internet and allowing anyone to watch a live stream of the Super Bowl on its website for free, but it still expects to cash in, like NBC did last year.

Many viewers, especially younger ones who are a key target for advertisers, will tune in to the big game on multiple screens—one on a stand and another in their hand or on their lap. With an audience numbering over 100 million, that’s a lot of eyeballs for the network to push its ads and related content to.

While the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers battle on the field, CBS will be counting the dollars as it streams the game live at CBSSports.com. The game also was streamed online for free last year by NBC.

History shows the decision was a wise one, even if a bit ironic given that watching NFL games live online often isn’t free.

Viewers complained vociferously about NBC’s spotty online coverage of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Not only that, only cable subscribers could stream events live.

Not so with Super Bowl XLVII. You can watch the game via CBSSports.com, no strings attached. Either that, or if you’re a Verizon customer you can shell out the monthly $5 in-app subscription to watch the game on your smartphone via the NFL Mobile app.

It’s all about the second screen and younger viewers.

While most people will probably park in front of their TVs to watch the game, many of them will have a device in hand—whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop on which they can get more Super Bowl content, chat with friends on social networks about the game or even get rewards for watching.

In fact, strictly paying attention to TV is falling by the wayside because really compelling apps have emerged that make television watching infinitely better. Through them, brands are able to connect with users on deeper levels than ever before.

Consider the free GetGlue app, which you can get on the Web and at Google Play and in the iTunes Store. Not only does it give you the Foursquare-like ability to check-in to TV shows and movies, see what friends are watching, chat with other viewers, unlock rewards as well as share game-related comments on social networks, Super Bowl watchers can also use the app to vote for the best commercials during the game. Even better, if you use GetGlue to check in to the game you’ll get a free month of Hulu Plus, which is worth $8.

Then there is the younger viewer factor.

A study commissioned by Empower MediaMarketing and cited in a story by Media Life Magazine found that 50 percent of adults 18 to 20 watch the game with six or more other people, and 77 percent say they pay more attention to ads during the Super Bowl than they do on an average day.

Other Super Bowl need-to-knows: Beyonce takes the stage during halftime and very well may be joined by Destiny’s Child bandmates. And if you only care about the commercials, you can already watch many of them online .

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