Super Bowl: Netflix Traffic Fell 20% in First Half, But Then Bounced Back to Normal Levels

According to Variety, Netflix reported a 20% fall in viewing during the first half of Super Bowl XLVIII, but picked up during the second half to normal levels.  Netflix accounts for a whopping 31.6% of downstream internet traffic during television’s primetime hours, so a 20% drop in viewers for over an hour is a significant loss.

However, we’re not here to talk about Netflix.  This drop in streaming from Netflix, if read between the lines, says something more significant about Fox.  The square-off between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos back in January, the Superbowl, is one of the most-viewed televised events every year.  If Netflix viewing was down 20% during the first half, that means a significant number of people were likely watching the game/commercials surrounding the Super Bowl.  

A variety of reasons for the drop in viewership during the second half can be assembled.  If you were keeping half an eye on Twitter during the game like I was, it’s no secret that many people thought this year’s Super Bowl had some of the worst ads in recent years.  People who don’t enjoy sports and watch the sporting event for the commercials were probably among the first to defect back to their beloved Netflix.  Next, you’ve got people who watched with only passing interest.  People that enjoy football, but aren’t fans of either team.  And finally, you have the people who were simply tired of watching what was, admittedly, a really boring game.  When one team gets steamrolled for four quarters, nobody wants to watch.

It’s not Fox’s fault the game was such a bust, but surely they lost some revenue from the significant portion of dropped viewers, and in the future, other networks may have to come up with contingency plans for such occurrences.

Spangler, Todd.  “Super Bowl: Netflix Traffic Fell 20% in First Half, But Then Bounced Back to Normal Levels.”  Variety, 3 February 2014.

Viacom and Fox Seek Share of Court-Mandated Anti-Smoking Spots

Variety reports that after a court decision that the big three of the tobacco industry (Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard) need to sponsor anti-smoking ads targeted at young people and African Americans, the two most at-risk groups from smoking, currently.  Viacom and Fox argue that they should be able to air these ads instead of just CBS, NBC, and ABC, because between the two of them they own the five most-watched networks by persons 12-34.  Fox argued, “Fox enjoys particular popularity among younger audiences, having been the preferred network among teenagers 12-17 and men 18-34 for 12 consecutive years. It was also the top rated network for 11 of the past 12 seasons among adults under the age of 35.”

What does this mean?  First of all, Fox sees itself as the best way to reach at-risk youth and younger adults (especially males) of this demographic because of the popularity of its programming coinciding with its viewership.  Like we talked about in class, Fox generally does have a younger, “edgier” demographic and image, and this advertising target will hopefully help promote healthy choices such as not smoking, in addition to helping Fox rein in their reputation for being edgy on occasion.  

It goes without saying that Fox will likely profit from the ad revenue, depending on whether its request is approved or not.  Being that the ads are being required to be made and costing big tobacco tens of millions of dollars, it’s a smart move for Fox to be in the interest of getting a cut of that check.

Johnson, Ted.  “Viacom and Fox Seek Share of Court-Mandated Anti-Smoking Spots.”  Variety, 29 January, 2014.

Bill O’Reilly to Interview President Obama Before Super Bowl XLVIII

Business Week notes, it’s become tradition for the president to speak to a news personality from the network hosting the Super Bowl before the game each year.  This year, the job falls to Bill O’Reilly from Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”  The interview itself will be held at the White House.  Additional footage from the interview not aired on February 2nd, will be aired during O’Reilly’s show the following day.

It’s not surprising that this interview is taking place.  Obama has made a point to do an interview for the past four iterations of the NFL spectacle, and this year is no different.  It’s funny to note that the interview and game both take place on Fox, a company who has historically been diametrically opposed to any agenda set forth by the president.  The company takes the opportunity to put Obama on air again with one of it’s darling pundits in what will hopefully be an enlightening interview before the face-off between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

Bias towards Fox News aside, this is a great opportunity for the network.  An interview with the president before one of the biggest televised events of the year spells nothing but high ratings and dollar signs for Fox.  It’s not a surprising move, but perhaps the selection of Bill O’Reilly as the interviewer will give a more “fair and balanced” opportunity to ask some of the questions the American public have on the public consciousness.  O’Reilly is an award-winning author, and a close friend of Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” and surely O’Reilly knows that flubbing the interview could provide Stewart some comedic gold.

“Bill O’Reilly to interview Obama before Super Bowl.”  Business Week, 24 January 2014. 

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