NEW YORK – The biggest draw in television is going mobile.
The Super Bowl will be streamed online and to phones in the U.S. for the first time, the NFL said Tuesday. NBC's broadcasts of wild card Saturday, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl will be available on the league's and network's websites and through Verizon's NFL Mobile app.
The service will include additional camera angles, in-game highlights and live stats — and replays of those always popular Super Bowl ads.
NBC has been streaming its "Sunday Night Football" telecasts for four seasons, and what the network has found is it's not just being used by fans who can't get in front of a set. Many of the page views come from people using the service as a complement to watching the game on TV.
That certainly would seem likely for the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 from Indianapolis. The game is annually by far the biggest attraction on television, with last season's Packers-Steelers matchup drawing a record U.S. audience for any show with 111 million viewers.
"Whether it's just for a quarter if somebody has to run out to the store to get something they forgot, now they can stay connected to the game," Hans Schroeder, the NFL's senior vice president of media strategy and development, told The Associated Press. "With such a big television audience, it will be interesting to see the expanded reach."
NBC's streams on Sunday nights typically average 200,000-300,000 viewers, compared with 21 million for the telecasts. The network has seen no evidence it hurts the traditional broadcasts' healthy TV ratings. If anything, the extra options online may help keep fans glued to the games on their sets.
"We don't want to limit ourselves to people not in front of the TV," said Rick Cordella, vice president and general manager for NBC Sports Digital Media.
"The playoffs are appointment viewing," he added. "People schedule their day around it."
The NFL and NBC will do extensive research to find out exactly how many people are watching the streams and how they're using them. What number of fans want to watch the Super Bowl each year but aren't in front of a TV for whatever reason?
Schroeder wonders had this been around for the Super Bowl three years ago, if fans at parties would have used the service to watch Santonio Holmes' toe-scraping winning touchdown catch for the Pittsburgh Steelers over and over again.
Follow Rachel Cohen at http://twitter.com/RachelCohenAP