If livestreaming is the future of sports broadcasting, that future is stil a ways away according to Major League Baseball’s broadcast & media president.
MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman told Re/code’s Code/Media conference that while online streaming won’t replace television yet, it’s where the future is.
“You just go where the people are,” Bowman explained. “If the consumers are on their mobile devices and that’s where they’re spending 90 percent of their connectivity on a mobile device, it’s not hard to figure out that’s where you gotta be.”
Despite the ever-increasing interest and viewership that comes with livestreaming, the technology simply isn’t there yet to handle a massive audience like, say, the Super Bowl.
“To sustain two million, that’s two major [content delivery networks] really chugging,” he said. “You don’t have backup. That’s the other thing, too. If something goes wrong and you’re using all these CDNs, who do you go to?”
Bowman said that MLB, which also handles the HBO Now streaming service, has only been able to handle up to two million concurrent viewers at one time. That’s a far cry from 112 million viewers that watched the Super Bowl.
Despite the fact that 15 million people were reported to have watched he NFL’s livestream of the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game from London this past year, the real number was apparently much closer to 2.3 million once you took out Yahoo! homepage autoplays and other factors. That won’t stop the NFL from livestreaming all three London games next season and trying to push the boundaries of CDNs.
Everyone else is getting in on the action as well. NBC livestreamed the Super Bowl (garnering 1.4 million viewers per minute). MLB Network offers livestreaming. The NHL offers single team livestreaming packages. The NBA says livestreaming is helping boost their numbers as well. Given the effect that mobile devices have on the way we consume sports, livestreaming will continuie to receive a great deal of attention from media companies and audiences. But from what it sounds like, it’s impact on bigtime viewership is still a long time away.