Super Bowl LI: Redefining the Digital Viewing Experience
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Jon Heller
By Jon Heller,
Co-Founder & Co-CEO,
FreeWheel

On Sunday February 5th, FreeWheel was the exclusive provider of ad decisioning solutions for FOX’s production of Super Bowl LI,  enabling FOX to serve both national and local affiliate ad streams across all digital platforms with its Hybrid Linear Digital Ad Scheduler (HyLDA).  In a Super Bowl streaming first, FOX supported custom digital ad insertions for 135 participating affiliates.

With a total audience of 172 million, this year’s Super Bowl was watched by more people than any other program in the U.S., and was the fifth most-watched program in television history. An average audience of 113.7 million viewers on FOX, FOX Sports GO & NFL Digital and FOX Deportes was recorded. This number tied for the second most-watched Super Bowl of all time across all platforms (vs. 115.8 million in 2015).

Redefining the Digital Ad Viewing Experience

HyLDA represents FreeWheel’s biggest step towards true unification, and is a crucial bridge between digital environments and traditional linear television. The solution offers publishers an unprecedented level of control over their digital ad environments, bringing together the scheduling capabilities of a linear ad system, with the dynamic nature of the digital world.

It is especially valuable for live tent-pole events where, as with the Super Bowl, publishers can choose to create a “one ad to many viewer” experience.  It also enables publishers to use a combination of spot scheduling and dynamic ad decisioning to deliver a superior viewing experience while maintaining all compliance and sponsorship commitments made to the advertisers.

As the exclusive provider of ad decisioning solutions for FOX’s production of Super Bowl LI, FreeWheel enabled FOX to have complete control of its digital ad experience during the most viewed sporting event of the year.  This precise control enabled FOX to mirror the national linear ad stream, and, for the first time ever, open up their digital schedule to their affiliates.  Affiliates were able to take advantage of this unique opportunity to place local advertisements within the national stream, and optimize on the associated revenue benefits.

Q3 VMR Ad View Growth by Content Duration

Live streaming across devices is growing at 60 percent year over year, and its popularity now demands that publishers are equipped to handle its unique characteristics. The FreeWheel Video Monetization Report: Q3 2016 revealed that sports viewing is on the rise, growing 76% YoY and comprises 31% of all ad views. Tent-pole event coverage (also seen in non-events like the recent U.S. Election) are now being widely consumed across all screens.

FreeWheel expects the rapid growth of live streaming to continue, making it possible for programmers to expand their digital footprint by enabling consumers to choose how and where they view the content and enabling advertisers seeking to align their brands with major sporting events to obtain unrivaled reach with highly engaged viewers.

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