If you watch the Super Bowl every year strictly to see the advertisements, CBS has news today that should make you very happy.
For the first time ever, the network plans to live-stream every Super Bowl ad online, as close as possible to the time it airs during the game, according to a report from Variety. That means the TV spots will be available on a platform other than TV, which represents a sea change from the traditional way they are consumed.
While many or all of the ads are typically available after the game on YouTube—and each year, they show up increasingly sooner after the game than the year before—viewers will now be able to see them during the game.
As Variety notes, this move has “seismic ramifications” for the advertisers, who will have to “consider online impressions and TV ratings at the same time, not separately, as has been common practice.”
But it also has an impact on a host of other parties: the viewers (might ratings for the game be lower if non-football fans simply watch the ads online, and not the game?); the creative agencies that produce the ads for big brands (with the ads available in-game online, might that change the best tone or content for the ads to score well?); and even food makers and consumer-goods companies (might this hurt the tradition of the Super Bowl party, if people can simply sit at their computer to see the ads?).
The report says that details of the plan, which CBS has not yet formally announced, have been making the rounds at media-buying agencies. One such buyer told Variety that CBS is “not going to let people opt out” of live-streaming their ads.
As exciting as this news may be for consumers, it is also certain to leave big brands anxious as they gear up for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2016. It will be the 50th Super Bowl, and the NFL has already indicated it will be making a big deal of that big, round number. #SB50 is sure to get marketed harder than any Super Bowl before it.
For this year’s Super Bowl, NBC fetched prices of around $4.5 million for a 30-second ad. Typically the cost goes up each year, and CBS CEO Les Moonves, in February, indicated that he hopes to get “north of $5 million” for spots next year. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), Fiat-Chrysler (FCA), Coca-Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) are among the perennial big spenders on these ads—all of them spent to advertise in year’s game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, and all are expected to return.
The news is yet another reminder of how deeply the Internet, and streaming video, have changed the way we consume television. And if the streaming of ads does mean fewer eyeballs for the game, then this news could also be big for Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, and other streaming platforms.
For more on the NFL’s digital video strategy, see our extensive interview with the head of NFL Media.