December 19, 1996 in Sports

Nfl Hopes To Net On-Line Record But Fast-Changing Technology Makes Super Bowl Numbers Hard To Compare

John Nelson Associated Press
 

The NFL would love to break its old Super Bowl Internet record - if it could figure out what the new one is.

The NFL said Wednesday that it would reopen its Super Bowl web site (http://www.superbowl.com) on Saturday in conjunction with Fox, which will televise the game on Jan. 26, and Starwave, the company that also manages NFL.com.

Last Jan. 28, the NFL’s first Super Bowl web site set a single-day Internet record with nearly 8 million hits. Since then, the web has done a lot of growing up, however.

“We get as many hits now on a regular Sunday as we did last year on Super Bowl day,” NFL Interactive vice president Ann Kirschner said.

In addition, the industry no longer considers hits, or individual clicks on a site, the standard by which to measure use. Instead, Internet providers use page views or estimated numbers of actual users to measure traffic on a site.

“We would absolutely love to break the record again,” Kirschner said, admitting she wasn’t even sure at this point what the record is.

In fact, the record could be changing daily.

At the same time, the NFL also announced that IBM would be the exclusive sponsor of Superbowl.com in what is believed to be the biggest on-line sponsorship of an event-specific Internet site. Terms of the agreement were kept confidential.

IBM, in turn, will showcase its new video technology to help the NFL televise news conferences, player interviews and other events surrounding the Super Bowl on its web site.

“There have been a lot of technological advances since last year,” Kirschner said. “We’ve got streaming audio and video. Most people are now on line with a 28.8 modem. Last year, it was slower.

“And video over the Internet is coming at us like a freight train, but so far we can just barely hear the whistle.”

In addition to the IBM video, Superbowl.com will feature Fox announcer Tim Green doing a live “cybercast” of the game, which will include text, audio and photos. Users of Superbowl.com also will be able to access streaming audio analysis by Fox experts and players all week long, live chats with players, the NFL’s on-line Super Bowl store and the IBM-sponsored Super Bowl sweepstakes.

The NFL’s regular-season web site (at http://www.nfl.com) now attracts an estimated 125,000 users on a normal Sunday with 540,000 per week. Last Nov. 4, NFL.com played host to more than 100,000 users for the first time on a weekday.

“If you look at when people normally use the Internet, most of it is on weekdays, while people are at work,” Kirschner said. “Our biggest day is Sunday, which means people are using the Internet at home. We are bucking the trend.”

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