Super Bowl LIII: CBS Sports HQ bets big on the big game

This is the first Super Bowl for CBS Sports HQ. The 24/7 streaming sports network, which launched in February, will be all over Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

All this week CBS Sports HQ is offering four daily shows that capture the drama of the NFL’s biggest day. Kanell and Bell, at 10-11 a.m. ET, provides in-depth discussions on each day’s storylines. Pick 6 Rundown, noon-1 p.m., features live interviews and top picks. Reiter’s Block, 5-5:30 p.m., airs conversations with active players and league legends and is followed by SportsLine, 6-7 p.m., with metrics-driven analysis.

That’s just the week leading up to game day. On Super Sunday itself, CBS Sports HQ will start off with a 10-hour pregame show, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. No matter how much guacamole you were planning, you’d better make more. The pregame programme will include hourly competitions between CBS Sports Digital personalities and active and past players.

The Super Bowl itself will be streamed on the service, with no authentication required. (Yes, the stream will carry all the national ads and the halftime show.) Afterwards, the service will host a live postgame show from 10 p.m. to midnight with reactions and highlights.

This blitz of Super Bowl coverage is something of a birthday party for CBS Sports HQ, as well as an introduction to fans who might not have watched before. It’s a splashy week one year in the making.

Plus, it promises to be a gift to the super fans, those who want serious football discussions with none of the distractions that swirl around the game. In other words, don’t expect to hear much drama about the halftime show or the politicisation of pro football.

“This is going to be our biggest digital-content investment around any CBS event that we’ve had.We take an approach where we focus in on the smarter fans, fans who are tired of all the hot takes and the tendency towards non-sports talk,” said Jeff Gerttula, EVP/GM, CBS Sports Digital. “We focus on the game, we focus on sports, we focus on smart analysis and highlights and things that we think the sports market needs.”

The entire CBS Sports HQ weekday lineup will be live from Atlanta, broadcasting from Radio Row. Weekend coverage will take place at the city’s NFL Experience, the pop-up theme park located at Georgia World Congress Center. The majority of the weekday shows are part of the service’s regular lineup, but going on location from Atlanta will let fans experience them in new ways and give the shows a chance to bring on top guests.

CBS is putting all its marketing muscle behind this week’s shows, talking them up on all its Sports Digital properties. That’s a reach of more than 70 million fans every month. CBS Sports HQ is also part of the CBS All Access streaming service, and that’s a huge distribution channel for it. Naturally, CBS will drive awareness on its broadcast-TV channel as well. If CBS’s marketers do their job, there won’t be a sports fan in the US who doesn’t know about this lineup.

Most consumption of CBS Sports HQ is through connected televisions, where it’s available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. Peak times are nights, weekends, and around major events.

The service attracts more people on mobile devices, although they don’t consume as much video as connected-TV viewers. Mobile-viewing behaviour is different from linear, geared toward clips and highlights. Although viewing is still heaviest on nights and weekends, it’s more spread out. Desktop viewing is strong during the workday.

“We’re going to have wall-to-wall 24/7 programming throughout the week,” said Gerttula. “We’re going to have a 10-hour lead-in pregame, and then we get to stream the Super Bowl. [Given] that it’s as big as it is, we’re going to be programming extensively throughout the entire week and then leading into the game; we expect we’ll be the biggest internet event in history — like the Super Bowl always is every year.”

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