Peacockgate. The Peacock Bowl. Whatever name you hung on the Chiefs/Dolphins matchup, the bird was the word and the chatter was hard to miss. The game itself, not so much.
It could not have been more obvious that fans, after a lifetime of being able to watch the games on network TV, were not enthused by the prospect of paying up before tuning in. (Yes, Peacock’s streaming service costs $5.99 per month. That apparently was not the point, according to fans.)
For those who tuned in, reviews were mixed at best. According to The US Sun, one of the top complaints (outside of the paywall) was picture quality. Over 1,300 people reported having streaming issues with around 300 problems reported before the game started, according to Down Detector. 75 percent of users reported issues with video streaming, 16 percent with the app, and 9 percent with the website, it added.
People also reported their TV screens being stuck on buffering during the game while using Peacock, of the game appearing almost in a choppy, frame-by-frame format, of the picture lacking the clarity they expected, and of the audio and video being maddeningly out of synch.
Social media reaction was absolutely brutal, with memes and snark ruling the day.
But people who wanted to see the game certainly did pay up; in fact, Sports Pro Media stated that it was the biggest livestreamed event ever in the U.S.
Forbes notes, “According to Nielsen, the primetime game generated an average audience of 23.0 million viewers, making it the most streamed event to date. The average audience peaked at 24.6 million during second quarter (9:15-9:30 p.m. ET). Overall, the game had reached 27.6 million viewers. Furthermore, NBCU said the wild card game also set another record with Peacock consuming 30 percent of all internet traffic.”
It was a much-needed boost for Peacock, according to Business Insider: “The apparent win for the streaming service comes after it reported nearly $3 billion in losses last year. As of December, Peacock’s 30 million subscribers lagged well behind the likes of Netflix, Disney+, and Max.”
That means, in all likelihood, we can expect to see games streamed again in the future. Of course, at this point, it is unclear how many people subscribed to Peacock just for the game, and then cancelled immediately.
The Associated Press quoted Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s executive vice president of media distribution, as saying that viewership would be one factor in deciding if a wild card game would continue to be exclusively streamed in the future.
Now, fans are wondering if the Super Bowl could be exclusively streamed someday. And that is a valid question. It appears that at least according to some metrics, viewers are amenable to paying for subscription services in order to watch a playoff game.
A Harris Poll conducted for Front Office Sports found that “about three in five (61 percent) NFL fans and two in five (45 percent) U.S. adults said they would be likely to pay for a subscription to a streaming service to watch an NFL playoff game. If the NFL were to take things a step further and make a postseason matchup a pay-per-view event, 57 percent of NFL fans and 42 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they would be likely to pay a one-time fee to watch an NFL playoff game. Of those NFL fans willing to pay a per-game price, more than half (53 percent) would pay $10+, and 17 percent would pay $20+.”
And if you get a few friends together for a viewing party, it’s still less than you’d spend on nacho ingredients.
FOS continued, “If the Super Bowl ever ended up on a paid streaming service, two-thirds (64 percent) of NFL fans and about half (49 percent) of U.S. adults would be likely to pay for a subscription to watch the game, per the FOS-Harris Poll. And the same amount of NFL fans and U.S. adults would be likely to pay a one-time fee for the Super Bowl, too.”