The 2022 Super Bowl is taking place in the state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, but that doesn't mean the broadcasts or streams will be any more advanced than in recent years. NBC, the broadcaster for Super Bowl 56, has already said it won't be airing the big game in 4K resolution. And people who are watching the Super Bowl live through a streaming service are likely to experience a lag, just like in 2020 and 2021.
If you're planning to stream the big game through Peacock, YouTube TV, Sling TV or any of the other live TV platforms, expect your feed to be a bit behind. The length of the delay could vary, but based on last year's game, streaming services lag around 40 seconds behind what's on the field. Compare that to cable, satellite or antenna TV, where the time gap from on-the-field action is significantly less. It's usually a transmission delay of about 5 seconds, which allows for broadcasters to prevent unsavory content from appearing on TV.
In an era with Twitter, group chats and phone push notifications, a 40-second streaming delay can lead to spoilers of big plays. And with the increase in legalized sports gambling, it could also ruin the experience of trying to bet on the action.
Phenix, a technology company that provides the infrastructure for real-time video feeds, compared the streaming lags on apps from the NFL, Yahoo Sports, FuboTV, Hulu Plus Live TV, CBS Sports and YouTube TV. It found that last year's game (which aired on CBS) streamed fastest on YouTube TV with a delay of 42.2 seconds -- but that was only slightly quicker than the roughly 43-second delay from the NFL and Yahoo Sports apps. FuboTV came in at 44.8 seconds, while Hulu Plus Live TV finished last at 46.2 seconds. (Verizon offered an in-arena feed which was closest to real-time, but for 2022 that experience is limited to those in SoFi Stadium.)
The issue isn't internet speed but latency, that is, the time it takes to transfer what's happening in the real world back to your screen over the internet. Some streamers also tack on a few seconds to ensure a clear picture and smooth experience rather than generate pauses and buffering on your end.
NBC is the broadcaster for 2022's Super Bowl, but don't expect its own streams to be closer to real-time. Based on the company's feeds from the 2021 Stanley Cup, Phenix found that YouTube TV and AT&T TV (now DirecTV Stream) were still around 40 seconds behind the on-ice action, while Peacock lagged by 42.1 seconds.
NBC did not respond to CNET's request for comment. We can't say whether the company is planning to make any improvements to latency in the feeds offered on Peacock or other streaming TV services for the 2022 Super Bowl.
In short, even in 2022, the best and fastest way to watch the Super Bowl is through cable, satellite or antenna TV. If you're planning to stream the game, be prepared for a delay, though there are still some steps you can take to bolster your network to avoid buffering and dropouts on game day.