The 2012 Super Bowl will be streamed online and on select mobile phones for the first time ever.
Billing the online offering as NBC Postseason Extra, it will launch Jan. 7 with NBC's Wild Card Saturday doubleheader. followed by the Pro Bowl Jan. 29 from Hawaii, and Super Bowl XLVI Feb. 5 live from Indianapolis. The games will be streamed on both NBCSports.com and NFL.com. as well as Verizon mobile phones.
The stream will come from NBC's coverage, with additional camera angles, highlights and stats to add to the interactive experience.
Will online streaming of the big game and playoffs become standard operating procedure? "We'll see how this year goes," said an NFL source on background.
If it does become the norm, the move to put playoff games online not only opens up the game to the increasingly mobile, increasingly broadband-centric audience, it could also remove one of the historic trump cards in some retransmission consent disputes: the biggest ticket sports broadcast.
At least for the affiliates of the network carrying each year's NFL playoffs and Super Bowl, the possibility of losing access to those games has been one of the talking points in Washington, where legislators have argued that retrans blackouts threaten programming for which there is no substitute, like the big football games, college and pro.
But with online access, most of the cable viewers affected by those blackouts would have an online option.
The streaming version of the Super Bowl will carry a different set of commercials from the Super Bowl broadcast, where NBC is nearly sold out at prices above $3 million for 30 seconds.
NBC is in the process of selling those spots. No word yet on pricing. NBC is also looking to sell ads in its other NFL online properies including NBC Postseason Extra.
While streaming the game could take some viewers away from the commercials on broadcast, among the options NBC will be offering users of computers and mobile devices is a channel showing the Super Bowl commercials with full DVR functionality, which means viewers away from home during the game can still catch the ads -- usually one of the most talked about features of Super Sunday.