How streaming lag time stacked up for Super Bowl LVIII

As streaming platforms delivered broadcasts of Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday not all scored big when it came to delays behind on-the-field action, according to data released from interactive video technology company Phenix.

Paramount-owned CBS broadcast this year’s NFL championship that saw the Kansas City Chiefs overtake the San Francisco 49ers in a 25-22 overtime victory, which was also simulcast on Nickelodeon, Univision and streaming service Paramount+.

Data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics put average viewership including the digital properties and simulcasts at 123.7 million, making it the most-watched TV event based on Nielsen’s ratings history.

Low latency on streaming is particularly important when it comes to sports, as distributors want to be as close to real-time as possible in games where viewers don’t want to be behind on catching big plays, find out a score from another source before they see it happen on the screen they’re watching, or be on a delay when sports betting is at play.    

Phenix on Monday reported Super Bowl latency across seven streaming services, a metric where Paramount+ came out on top and virtual MVPD Fubo lagged, followed by Disney-owned Hulu + Live TV. The delay between on-field action and streaming wasn’t great across vMVPD-delivered feeds of the CBS production, Paramount+, NFL+ and TelevisaUnivsion’s ViX, as the services averaged more than a minute in lag time.

Paramount-owned Paramount+ performed the best but still delivered an average lag time of 42.73 seconds. Comparatively, average cable-delivered delay behind field of play was 50.40 seconds. Fiber (Verizon Fios) and over-the-air (OTA) broadcast average delay times were better at 29 seconds and 22.19 seconds, respectively. Still, Fubo had the highest latency from on-the-field play, averaging 86.75 seconds. Paramount+ was the only service tracked that delivered lag time below 50 seconds, averaging a 42.73- second delay on the platform.

Phenix Super Bowl 2024 latency graph

While Fubo had the worst latency, the performance wasn’t consistent and lag time varied widely among subscribers, with Phenix reporting a 128 second range among viewers on the platform – meaning some saw much shorter and some much longer lag times. ViX, the Spanish-language streamer from TelevisaUnivision, had an even wider range or “drift” for lag times delivered to users, spanning a 133.96 second range among users. The NFL+ app and Paramount+ were first and second in terms of consistent latency.

For its results, Phenix collected 173 data points, including browser-based and app-based experience, to benchmark latency across seven common streaming platforms on a variety of devices and operating systems. It benchmarked latency of OTA broadcast, cable and satellite against an individual inside the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It measured the delay from the benchmarked signals to the streaming services geographies in the U.S., combining measurements for average latency and drift from action on the field.