CBS Sports announced yesterday that it will extend unauthenticated streaming of Super Bowl LIII to mobile devices. The move means that viewers do not need to have a pay-TV subscription in order to watch the game on mobile, nor do they need to have wireless service with Verizon, as has been required in past years.
It also means that mobile streaming will be on the same footing as desktop and connected TV viewing, both of which had unauthenticated access the last time CBS had the Super Bowl rights, in 2016. The game will also be available to CBS All Access subscribers.
In addition, CBS Sports also announced that the NFL on CBS fall schedule will also be available on CBS All Access across all available platforms (desktop, CTV, mobile). This is the first season All Access subscribers will be able to watch the games on mobile. And mobile viewing of NFL on CBS is also being extended on an authenticated basis to cable, satellite, telco and vMVPD subscribers.
CBS has been among the leaders in enabling live-streaming of sports events and the new emphasis on mobile reflects the growing importance of the platform. Even for the Super Bowl, when many are huddled around the big screen, there are still lots of viewers who are out of their homes and require mobile access.
Still, like all other TV networks, CBS is balancing providing greater unauthenticated access with a desire to preserve the value of pay-TV subscriptions (which can then be used to enforce authenticated-only access). With entertainment options proliferating, sports remains the key firewall for pay-TV subscriptions, even though sports are one of the most important reasons for driving up the price of pay-TV.