Live streaming for NFL content is growing faster than the global trend, which is also expanding at unprecedented rates, according to a new report released by intelligence company Conviva.
Streaming has ramped up over the past year as quality and access has improved. According to the report, which covers streaming data for the third quarter, total plays climbed 49 percent over the year-earlier period while viewing time was up 54 percent.
The NFL has benefitted from a faster adoption rate as the league has worked to increase access to its content across a range of streaming locations. So far this season, NFL live viewing is up 72 percent year-over-year in plays and 83 percent in viewing hours.
This confirms the NFL’s own bullish report released earlier this month on streaming. Through week four of the 2018 season, consumption of NFL games on digital was up 65 percent from 2017, with an average audience per minute of 326,000 viewers per game across all platforms, according to the league. Growth was being driven by mobile, notably via smartphones and connected TVs, where the average audience was up 147 percent and 54 percent, respectively, compared with 2017.
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The NFL has attributed much of its success to its focus on providing a high-quality streaming experience. NFL Media’s Culver City, Calif., headquarters is staffed with nearly 100 people on game days who make sure all of the digital streams are running smoothly.
The other success driver has just been an increase in access. Prior to this season, mobile access was limited via an exclusive contract to Verizon Wireless customers. Tablet access typically required a pay-TV subscription. Now, all primetime games and Sunday afternoon local games can be viewed on any mobile device via the NFL app or Verizon’s media properties without requiring a payment or login.
Interestingly, despite the focus on live streaming for major sporting events like the World Cup, which drove a 10 percent bump in traffic during the weeks the tournament was played in the third quarter, long-form video on demand content saw the biggest gains year-over-year, according to Conviva.
Long-form content saw 111 percent and 93 percent increase in plays and viewing hours, respectively, increasing share to more than half of all global viewing Conviva measured.