The Ad-Free Super Bowl Stream
I’m not a sports guy. In fact, I don’t even watch the Super Bowl most years, but this year my friends invited me to a watching party. I decided the party was worth sitting through a football game. Besides, the Super Bowl is famous for its commercials, which appeals to someone in the creative field like me. But like so many members of my generation (including me), my friends are cord-cutters. They rely on Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services to watch TV shows and movies. Thankfully, NBC decided to stream the game online this year, but in the biggest WTF moment of 2015, the Super Bowl stream lacked commercials.
The One Time I Want to Watch the Ads…
The lack of commercials didn’t ruin our Super Bowl party. But then again, we were all just there to drink beer, eat junk food and hang out with each other. Still, I feel like I missed out on a vital part of the experience. Sure, I can go and watch the best of the ads on YouTube, but it’s just not the same as seeing it live.
What amazes me about the experience is that, for virtually every other form of media, I tune out the ads as much as possible. Most of the times the advertisements are simply a burden that we put up with in order to enjoy free content. But the one time the ads are a vital part of the content, NBC makes the bone-headed decision to leave them out of the online streaming option.
Antiquated Broadcast Rules
I understand why there were no commercials on the online broadcast. As an old-school broadcast network, NBC airs its shows through local affiliates. The more that people stream content directly from the network, the less the local TV stations get to show promos for the nightly news. So it’s not really NBC’s fault. They’re beholden to contracts with hundreds of local TV stations. These existing obligations keep them from providing the ideal Super Bowl streaming experience to a generation of cord-cutters. In the end, my ad-free Super Bowl was a product of a 20th century business model desperately trying to keep up in the 21st century. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out in the next few years. Until then, I’ll just have to watch the ads on YouTube.