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Here’s How to Watch the Super Bowl Online

Aloe Blacc Performs Opening Night Free Concert At Super Bowl CityAloe Blacc Performs Opening Night Free Concert At Super Bowl City
Super Bowl City on February 1, 2016 in San Francisco, California.Photograph by Tim Mosenfelder—Getty Images

If you can’t watch this Sunday’s Super Bowl on your television, there’s always the Internet.

To watch the game on a computer, CBS, the broadcasting giant responsible for presenting this year’s Super Bowl, will live stream the game from CBSSports.com.

On mobile devices, only Verizon (VZ) Wireless customers will be able to watch the game using mobile data, viewing the stream through the NFL Mobile from Verizon app.

Customers of other mobile providers may feel like they are being shut out, but this year’s roster of hardware for watching the game is actually bigger than years past. That’s because cable cutters running streaming boxes can catch the Super Bowl live via the CBS Sports app on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and Xbox One. And scoring extra points with viewers, the apps aren’t requiring that people log in through a television provider to access the hard-hitting action.

In order to provide the Internet live stream to all these varied viewers, CBS needs to bring its “A” game. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes for the broadcasting company, explained CBS Sports Digital senior vice president Jeffrey Gerttula.

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First, CBS captures the raw video feed from the stadium and sends it via satellite to the CBS broadcast center in New York, where it gets encoded and processed for the web and different devices, Gerttula explained. An additional encoding facility in Omaha also receives this satellite feed. This location acts as a backup, in case the New York office fumbles at any point during the game.

But what about the commercials? For some viewers, ads are as big a draw as the game. CBS is also adding commercials to streaming video feed to match “one for one what people are seeing on television,” said Gerttula. “We’re actually taking the ads and stitching them in one at a time,” he said.

But the network isn’t just providing this service out of the goodness of their hearts. After the commercials are processed for the web, CBS is also able to track how many people are watching them.

Closed captioning services are also added to the Internet stream for the hearing impaired.

Then, after the feed has been processed for the web, it gets sent to CBS partner Akamai (AKAM), which distributes the video to devices from its various data centers around the country.

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“As the stream transverses the United States, you try to make sure that every place it stops is as short as possible,” said Gerttula, regarding the work CBS has done over the past year to cut back on video delays.

And despite the increased popularity of streaming video, when it comes to the Super Bowl, television continues to reign supreme. Gerttula expects the number of television viewers will dwarf the amount of Internet viewers.

Last year, the game drew 1.3 million viewers via streaming, but Gerttula wouldn’t disclose how many people CBS expects to watch the game via the web this year. “We don’t disclose our forecast,” he said. “But I will tell you that we are preparing for massive audience in millions.”