While those in Houston should enjoy a great atmosphere for Super Bow LI, discussions are being held as to how to make the game better for those at home. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
If given the choice, people who plan to watch Super Bowl LI would prefer to consume the content through an online stream as opposed to a traditional television. Half of them would enjoy experiencing the game through a virtual reality headset. Additionally, advertisers should be happy with the fact that Super Bowl LI spectators are still amused by the advertisements, and that the majority of watchers would be saddened to see the commercials disappear from the Big Game.
These were all findings based on a survey conducted by Burson-Marsteller in partnership with Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) from January 18-21, which measured the perceptions and behaviors of 1,000 people who plan to watch Super Bowl LI and who watched the Super Bowl in 2016.
Future Super Bowls Should Be Streamed On The Internet
"We found first and foremost that a lot of the Super Bowl audience said that they'd be interested in streaming the game online instead of watching on TV," said Jason Teitler, Chair of Fan Experience at Burson-Marsteller. "This is not surprising among millennials. What is surprising is that a lot of viewers said they would cancel their cable subscription if they could watch online."
55% of people planning to watch Super Bowl LI said they would be interested in streaming pro football games online instead of watching on TV, including 77% of millennials. Additionally, 29% of those probable viewers said they would be more likely to cancel their cable subscription if they could stream pro football games online, including 43% of millennials.
"It says to me that the business of football, particularly the Super Bowl, will go through a heavy transformation over next few years, because there's heavy preference on how to watch the game overall with much greater comfort to watch over the Internet," added Teitler.
This is not only something for National Football League executives to notice. It should very much be a concern of large telecommunication companies, which could experience a major backlash from consumers if they do not get up to speed on the technologies required to stream effectively and efficiently to a mass audience for an event like the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl Experience May Soon Be Enhanced By Virtual Reality
48% of people planning to watch Super Bowl LI said they would be interested in watching the Super Bowl on a virtual reality headset, including 71% of fantasy football players. 43% of respondents and 60% of fantasy football players said virtual reality is the future for experiencing pro football games.
"This is about a hunger to get closer to the game," explained Teitler. "Smart brands are looking at tech, particularly VR and streaming, to capture the attention of audiences that are otherwise elusive, knowing full well 5-10 years down the road the landscape will look very different."
Teitler suggested that a content distributor could take the spectator on a virtual reality tour of the Super Bowl host stadium, providing an experience that someone on-site would not even be able to experience. The technology could make it a more meaningful experience for those who either cannot afford to travel to the game or simply do not have the desire to travel long distances to witness a Super Bowl in person. It could also open the door to new forms of brand exposure for companies that would not normally consider to be a natural part of the Super Bowl environment, because of cost or lack of access.
Ads Are Still Vital To The Big Game Viewing Experience
For four years, Burson-Marsteller has been surveying people who plan on watching that year's Super Bowl and has found, in the recent past, that there is a slow climb of consumers who would be disappointed if the Super Bowl was commercial-free. It demonstrates that despite the bickering surrounding commercials, they are an integral part of the overall broadcast.
Compared to the 2016 survey, there was an increase from 48% to 53% of viewers saying they would be disappointed if the Super Bowl was broadcast without advertisements. Furthermore, 60% of individuals who say they will tune in for Super Bowl LI and 87% of constant social media users say they are interested in the additional content that brands provide on social media in addition to their Super Bowl TV commercials
"There is a great hunger by the fan for brands to go beyond the commercial to create content that surrounds the sports fan in a variety of different ways to discuss with one another and even the brand on certain topics, whether entertaining or meaningful," said Teitler. "The call-to-action could be anything from engaging people in a contest or challenging them to create content of their own."