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Super Bowl LV hits streaming record as total TV viewership falls

CBS's coverage of Super Bowl LV hit a new streaming record even as total TV audience numbers fell amid the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' blowout victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

CBS Sports said the Big Game drew an average minute audience of 5.7 million across streaming platforms, beating last year's streaming coverage by 65%. The programmer also touted Super Bowl LV as the first NFL game ever to deliver more than 1 billion total streaming minutes.

CBS's live stream was available for free and unauthenticated (no pay-TV credentials required) on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app across a wide range of OTT devices, smart TV and mobile devices, on the mobile properties of the Buccaneers and Chiefs, as well as Yahoo Sports and other Verizon Media mobile properties. A live stream of the game was also available on CBS All Access, a subscription streaming service that's set to be rechristened as Paramount+ on March 4.

Last year's Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers from Fox drew an average-minute streaming audience of 3.4 million.

CBS said the game delivered a record-breaking day for CBS All Access in terms of new subscriber sign-ups, unique devices, streams and time spent. However, CBS All Access didn't come away completely unscathed, as a technical hiccup caused the service to crash at the start of the game. Dan Rayburn, streaming media expert and principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said the problem stemmed from an issue with the app rather than with the video stream itself:

Rayburn noted that Fastly, Verizon Media and Amazon CloudFront were the content delivery networks handling video distribution for Super Bowl LV.

One of those CDNs, Fastly, also shared some of its observations from the game:

Total TV audience declines

The streaming audience of Sunday's game was of record size, but it still represented a small fraction of the traditional TV audience, which notably fell. According to Nielsen, CBS's telecast of Super Bowl LV drew an average audience of about 92 million viewers. Nielsen said 68% of US homes with televisions in use were tuned to the Super Bowl LV telecast.

The game delivered 96.4 million viewers across all platforms, CBS Sports said. That was down from the 102 million total viewers Fox drew across all of its platforms for last year's championship game.

Touting Paramount+

ViacomCBS used the game to heavily promote and tease Paramount+ ahead of the service's March 4 debut. Here's a sample of an ad that was peppered throughout the game:

The ads for Paramount+ left some analysts wanting, wondering if it was a mistake for ViacomCBS to keep most of its powder dry about deeper details of the new service prior to a big reveal that's been set for February 24:

Still, a teaser for Y:1883, a spin-off/prequel for Yellowstone, that will debut exclusively on Paramount+ sometime in 2021, did send fans of the series into a tizzy.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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