CBSSports.com Boosts Second-Screen Presence on SEC Game of the Week
We’re only 13 years in, but many threw around the term “Game of the Century” in advance of last Saturday’s huge rematch between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station. For CBS Sports, the game — and the ratings — certainly lived up to the hype.
The Crimson Tide came out on top in an offensive slugfest, and CBS garnered the highest ratings it’s had for a regular-season afternoon college football game since 1990 (a 9.0/21 overnight rating/share, says Nielsen).
CBS’s digital side saw even greater success, with a live stream of the game set college-football records for CBSSports.com. The game logged 34% more unique visitors than the previous high, set during the 2012 SEC Championship game, according to data from Akamai.
Did it have to do largely with the marquee matchup? Sure. However, a revamped and more robust second-screen experience certainly improved things for the viewers at home.
For the first time, CBSSports.com is offering unique, interactive camera angles exclusively on the second screen, including the All-22 camera, which provides a high view from the 50-yard line showing all the players on the field. Used in the broadcast as a telestrator feature to break down plays, the live All-22 angle is designed for fans who enjoy studying formations and getting a coach’s perspective on each play.
CBSSports.com has been streaming live events for a few years, mostly offering the linear broadcast as a simulcast online. In the past year, it began to expand that, in part thanks to the success of March Madness Live and the Super Bowl on CBS Sports’ digital platforms. In fact, the All-22 camera angle was first offered live on CBSSports.com during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII in February.
“We’ve been very successful with most of the things that we’ve streamed, but what we’ve done over the past year-plus is start to really, truly create a second-screen experience,” says Patty Hirsch, VP/GM, CBS Interactive Advanced Media. “That means engaging the viewers even more.”
To offer the All-22 camera angle, the CBSSports.com engineering team takes directly from the on-site production truck the camera feed used for the telestration replay angle on the broadcast. According to Hirsch, the method of transmitting the feed through CBS’s internal channels to its viewers may change on a week-to-week basis.
“There’s different paths depending upon the event,” she says. “Some we take directly from the truck; some we run through our broadcast center. So it really depends on the best path and making sure we get the best feed for the end user.”
Taking a page from March Madness Live, CBS Interactive is also offering social-media options with this year’s streaming package. Social Arena allows users to be plugged in on comments and updates coming in from CBSSports.com. On the backend, CBS Interactive created a dynamic content component that allows its editorial staff to push critical updates into the player experience.
Says Hirsch, “We think it’s going to be a great experience for not only watching but getting the analysis that you need along the way.”
As for responding to the huge traffic numbers CBS Interactive experienced last Saturday, Hirsch is entirely confident in the company’s technological infrastructure and says the extra servers are in place if they need to be fired up for a big-time event.
“We do that frequently because we do a lot of really large events that we have to modify our servers to make sure that the infrastructure can handle it,” she says. “The Super Bowl and March Madness Live are great examples. We’ve been doing this for so long that we know coming up to an event when to anticipate the traffic based on what the event is or who’s playing in that event.”
CBS Sports’ live stream of the SEC Game of the Week is available on the CBS Sports app for Android, iPhone, and iPad as well as CBSSports.com. The SEC on CBS schedule features a total of 16 games during the network’s 13-week season, including two doubleheaders and the SEC Championship on Saturday Dec. 7 (4 p.m. ET).
In addition to the SEC, CBS Sports will also broadcast Air Force at Navy for the third consecutive year on Saturday Oct. 5 (11:30 a.m.), the annual Army-Navy game on Saturday Dec. 14 (3 p.m.), and the 79th Sun Bowl on Tuesday Dec. 31 (2 p.m.).