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The NFL and US broadcaster NBC have announced that the 2012 Super Bowl will be streamed live online and to mobile devices.

Along with the annual showpiece, wild card Saturday and the Pro Bowl will also be available online and from Verizon’s NFL Mobile app.

The stream will include additional camera angles, highlights and live stats.

This isn't the first time that the NFL has ventured into the world of streaming – viewers have been able to access live games via NFL.com for several years while NBC shows its ‘Sunday Night Football’ broadcasts online and to Verizon phones.

But streaming the Super Bowl is an interesting development because of its huge audience figures – a record 111m US viewers tuned in for last season’s game – which generate millions in advertising revenue.

Figures from Kantar Media Intelligence state that the Super Bowl has raked in $1.62bn from advertisers between 2001-2010.

The NFL and NBC is treating the stream as a separate ad platform, offering advertisers the chance to run campaigns based on geography or other such data. It will have its own set of ads run against it, which will be different from those shown on the TV broadcast.

Since NBC knows that the ads brands pay big money for are a big draw for much of its audience, it’ll make those ads available on one feed of the online broadcast as well. Plus, viewers will be able to back up and watch them over again, just like they would with a DVR.

There's also a huge differentiation between NBC's Sunday Night Football viewing figures, which suggests that there's unlikely to be much cannibalisation - especially as the streaming is only available to those in the US. Near 20m tune in every Sunday to watch the broadcast, and only 200,000 - 300,000 watch online.

So what happens next year? Is this the first step in taking it global? At the moment there's rights restrictions to consider, but this would allow the NFL to double up on its advertising revenues by selling ads in different markets while providing very targeted promotional opportunities to brands.

David Moth

Published 21 December, 2011 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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