From The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post to Forbes and Sports Business Journal, a lot has been written over the past few years about live streaming delays and low latency video streaming for sports broadcasts.
Super Bowl latency is a particularly hot topic, because it’s the highest profile event of the year. Comparing latency, or the delay sports fans see between what happens on the field and when it shows up on their device of choice, remains inconsistent due to the nature of the technology used for live streaming today.
At Phenix, we’ve been performing our own real time sports latency study for the past several years. Our Super Bowl latency study averages 200+ data points from fans around the country by measuring the delay sports fans observe from the field of play to an end-user’s device.
We have people at the game each year so we get an accurate measurement of real-time sports streaming from the field of play to the various cable and over-the-air (OTA) sports broadcasts. This year, OTA sports broadcasts averaged 18 seconds behind the field and cable had a 28 second delay sports fans had to tolerate. Then we measure the streams from cable and OTA sports broadcasts to a streaming provider.
This year, we measured real-time sports streaming latency for:
Our most recent Super Bowl latency study found The FOX Sports mobile app delivered the best results by far, averaging a 23.9 second live streaming delay behind the field of play. Unfortunately, the drift for the Fox mobile app averaged 70 seconds - this measurement is taken from the user with the fastest stream to the user with the slowest.
Interestingly, two of the live streaming platforms closest to the NFL, NFL+ and YouTube (YouTube recently signed a long-term deal with the NFL to stream the Sunday Ticket package), had disappointing results.
The NFL+ app averaged a 60.7 second live streaming delay behind the field of play, and YouTube TV averaged a 53.6 second delay.
Other key takeaways from our latency research over the past several years include:
Several other organizations measure streaming delays for the Super Bowl including SSIMWAVE and The Streamable. However, their data differs from the Phenix study for two reasons:
Regardless of latency testing methodology, imagine if you were watching the game on one of these apps - or any of the streaming providers for that matter - and heard about the game winning field goal 50+ seconds BEFORE you actually saw it happen! This is a terrible experience for sports fans.
It’s quite common for sports enthusiasts to enjoy the game using a variety of sports broadcasts and game data from mobile apps while watching a game. With Super Bowl latency this high, you have to turn off your notifications or your experience is ruined. Taken to another level, imagine if you were betting on it!