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The NFL’s annual Super Bowl matchup has long been linear television’s tentpole. But as with many things, the Big Game is becoming an increasingly digital affair.
This year, CBS Sports, which has the rights to air the game and is planning extensive pregame and postgame coverage, will stream it on CBS Sports’ digital properties, including CBSSports.com, NFL’s own digital properties and on Verizon Media mobile platforms, including Yahoo Sports, to all viewers without requiring cable log-ins or other authentication. The game will also be available to watch live for subscribers to its streaming service CBS All Access—which will in early March be rebranded as Paramount+—in addition to being on the CBS Sports app that is available on smart TVs and other OTT devices and services, as well as on mobile devices.
CBS also said today that it will begin its Super Bowl 55 coverage at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 7. Live pregame coverage will start at 2 p.m., and kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
A Spanish-language broadcast will be available on ESPN Deportes and available to stream on ESPN digital platforms.
“We’re excited to broaden the availability of our Super Bowl LV stream this year, and we look forward to building on the incredibly strong momentum NFL football is driving on CBS All Access as a cornerstone of the extensive live sports offerings available on the service,” Jeff Gerttula, evp and general manager of CBS Sports Digital, said in a statement.
The decision marks an expansion of the Super Bowl’s streaming availability as more consumers cut the cord or otherwise choose streaming media as their preferred method for watching programming. It also comes as the method of watching the Super Bowl—once dominated by boisterous watch parties and gatherings at sports bars and restaurants—will likely be a more subdued and isolated affair as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to relegate Americans to their homes.
Last year’s Super Bowl 54, which Fox had the broadcast rights to, was the most-watched livestreamed Super Bowl in history, Fox said at the time, delivering an average minute audience of 3.4 million, a 30% increase from the previous year.
It’s not the first time CBS Sports has opted to make the Super Bowl available to watch without a linear authentication. The sports broadcaster first opted to stream Super Bowl 47 in 2013, making it available unauthenticated to viewers. It added CBS All Access availability starting with Super Bowl 53 in 2019.
In 2019, Super Bowl streams on CBS All Access delivered a record for the burgeoning streaming service, driving an 84% increase in new subscriber sign-ups, a 46% increase in unique viewers and a 76% jump in time spent on the streaming service, the company said at the time.
On linear, however, CBS is still expecting a postgame viewership bump. The broadcaster plans to premiere new drama The Equalizer, starring Queen Latifah, following the game’s broadcast.