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Super Bowl 2020 Won Millions of Viewers, But Did It Fumble On Innovation?

Written by Rashida Boyd

football

Whether you’re in it for the game, food, commercials or halftime show, the Super Bowl is an American phenomenon that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue come the first weekend in February. Given the rise of trends like the growth of CTV households as one example, questions are raised about how this technology will be incorporated into large-scale live events, and how this ultimately affects advertisers. Here we asked Innovid co-founder Tal Chalozin for his take on the big tech behind the big game to uncover what worked, and what we should expect in the future.

 

4(K) Was The Magic Number

For the first time ever, the Super Bowl streamed in 4K high dynamic range (HDR), which is fancy talk for a picture so clear and sharp that it makes HD feel like the dial-up of TV experiences. To put it in context, 4K has 4 times the pixels as HD, providing mind-blowing color, clarity, and realness to the TV experience. Fox initially tested the technology in its Thursday Night Football broadcast, which surfaced some issues. For example, the entire game was not able to be streamed in 4K HDR, so it was filmed in 1080p and HDR before it was converted to 4K. This resulted in lags and variations in picture quality that gave consumers an inconsistent experience. Luckily for most sports fans, the network changed its approach for Super Bowl Sunday. Ultimately, this ushered in more questions about the future of live content over the internet, and the ability it will have to enhance the viewer experience.

 


“In the new world of TV content won’t really change, so the user experience will be a true differentiator. Innovations like what we see here with 4K HDR and 5G are playing a big part in building an improved viewer experience and acts as a scaffold for so many more innovations to come.”

-Tal Chalozin, CTO & Co-Founder at Innovid


 

5G Broke Bandwidth Boundaries

Broadcasting in 4K wasn’t the only tech first for this year’s game. Verizon Wireless announced it would be incorporating its 5G capabilities into the in-person game experience, allowing fans lucky enough to be in the stadium access to the network. Additionally, through the NFL OnePass app, fans were able to switch between 5 different camera angles placed on the sidelines. There are several reasons why this is a big deal, but let’s just focus on two:

  1. It Could Lift Current Limitations: 5G is roughly 100 times faster than the 4G network you are likely reading this article from. This means that consumers can browse content faster and without pesky problems like mobile network congestion.
  2. 5G Ushers In New Possibilities: The lack of limitations means that content creators and networks alike can experiment with tech that would’ve been impossible even 5 years ago. An example of this could be virtual reality (VR) where companies can put users inside the content they are consuming.

 


“5G capabilities have big implications for the potential of the media experience, giving brands the opportunity to create more interactive and robust experiences. It’s important for advertisers to be a part of this innovation, and not simply wait until most have already fully adopted the technology.”

-Tal Chalozin, CTO & Co-Founder at Innovid


 

Ad Measurement Became Murky

Even as all the cutting-edge technology made history, there was a noticeable area where things took a few steps back—measurement. This year, advertisers were not offered the ability to implement ad tracking, measurement or ability to implement more advanced interactive ad units.

Given that the Super Bowl is still the most-watched, and therefore the biggest opportunity for advertisers, broadcasters will continue to take special care to ensure they are able to deliver flawlessly. One would argue that this is even more critical for streaming where the open internet infrastructure (as opposed to a closed managed network) is more susceptible to errors.

It will be interesting to see how publishers address this balance moving forward. Last year, CBS Sports chose to allow the space for more innovation—the interactive overlay ad for Pringles being a prime example. This, of course, is in stark contrast to Fox’s safer approach of rolling back digital ad tech capabilities, which made such units impossible.

 

All in all, whether your team won or lost, this year’s game was an exciting preview of what’s to come. What was your experience with 4K, 5G and/or ad measurement? Tell us on twitter or write to us on LinkedIn.

 

 

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Topics: Connected TV, Television, CTV, Super Bowl