Our No-Ad NBCSports.com Super Bowl
When we wake up on Super Bowl Sunday, we discover we have no power or heat. Touchdown! Luckily, we have a nice neighbor who lets us use his space heater and an extension cord plugged in at his place to keep the laptop running during the Big Game. We log on to NBCSports.com to watch NBC's official live stream—but don't see the ads marketers paid $4.5 million to air for 30 seconds. Where are they? During each commercial break, it's just silence and a Super Bowl logo.
"That's weird," I think. "Maybe the negotiations didn't include the online rights."
On Thursday night, I find out I'm right. Yes, NBC did sell space on the channels separately. And yes, there were plenty of fans watching on the live stream who didn't see ads.
"Our record-setting Super Bowl live stream delivered millions upon millions of ads to 2.5 million unique viewers," an NBC Sports spokesman writes on Friday in an emailed response to my questions. "There may have been unique cases where end-user configurations prevented the delivery of some ads, but these were infinitesimal compared to the overall ad delivery."
Hmm. Is that true?
On Thursday night, P.J. Bednarski of MediaPost publishes a piece about how the live stream was slow and delayed, which was not our experience. The stream itself was fine—sharp, and without stutters or buffering. However, we did live the first part of this Bednarski complaint: "Streaming viewers saw dead air, or, as it turns out, several showings of the same commercials from the few advertisers who ponied up, including T-Mobile. Groused [Joel Espelien of The Diffusion Group], 'No one should be subjected to Kim Kardashian's T-Mobile commercial that many times. It's inhuman.' "
NBC sold 18 digital ads, some of which had the same creative as the TV versions, some didn't. Those ads brought in "eight figures" for the network. That's three times as much revenue as NBC brought in in 2012, during the first live stream, says the NBC Sports spokesman.