Even as traditional TV ratings decline, Super Bowl LIII could find plenty of new viewers on mobile phones this year. The NFL and its media partners have lifted virtually all restrictions on watching the big game on smartphones or tablets. Official Super Bowl broadcaster CBS will offer free access without registration to every tackle and down through its CBS Sports app and website, while the NFL and Yahoo Sports will carry their own free streams on their respective mobile apps. Given the recent renaissance in unlimited data plans in the U.S., there are also far fewer financial barriers this year for mobile consumers wanting to stream the Super Bowl from kickoff to trophy presentation.
This year's showdown between the Rams and Patriots should be the most watched Super Bowl on mobile devices ever. Given that, we thought it would be fun to pit the NFL markets against one another, but not in a contest of football prowess. Rather we compared the mobile video experience offered in the 29 U.S. metro areas that host one or more NFL teams. In OpenSignal's Video Experience Bowl, the winner is the city that will likely support the best possible mobile video quality when streaming the Super Bowl itself.
Though Cleveland haven't made the NFL playoffs since 2002, Browns fans can take some small solace in the fact that their hometown has the best Video Experience of all 29 NFL cities. OpenSignal's first-of-its-kind Video Experience metric measures the quality of video streamed to mobile devices over 3G and 4G networks. It is calculated on 0-100 point scale, taking into account factors like load time, stalling rate and video resolution. Cleveland's Video Experience score of 55.3 is noteworthy not only because it ranks highest among NFL markets, but it was also the only city in that group to fall into the Good range of our video ratings (55-65). The rest of the 28 cities had Fair ratings (40-55), which is generally indicative of long waits before video begins playing, frequent interruptions during playback or restrictions on video resolution.
As a whole, the U.S. averaged a Fair Video Experience rating in our recent State of Mobile Video global analysis. Also, in our most recent U.S. report none of the Big 4 operators managed an average Video Experience above Fair. So not too shabby, Cleveland.
But what about the home cities of our two real Super Bowl contenders? Boston's Video Experience score of 53.7 was two points higher than Los Angeles' score of 51.5. If the NFL championship was decided by Video Experience, the New England Patriots would have won by a safety.