Super Bowl XLVI (46) kicks off on February 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, and no matter where you'll be that Sunday, you have plenty of ways to stream the big game to your PC, tablet, or smartphone so you can watch the Giants and the Patriots struggle for supremacy on your preferred device.
Watch the Big Game Online
For the first time ever, the NFL will stream the Super Bowl live on both nfl.com and nbcsports.com. Both streams will be available for free in high definition on February 5, and will offer fans the option to switch between different camera angles and feeds. The NBC Sports website has been streaming Sunday Night NFL games to fans for free since 2008 with additional features such as a chat room and pause/rewind options, and we expect its Super Bowl stream will offer similar features.
Remember that kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. EST, so make sure you're ready before the pregame show starts by updating your favorite Web browser and downloading the latest versions of both Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash.
The only potential drawback of streaming Super Bowl XLVI online is missing out on the biggest commercial opportunity of the year, literally: The Super Bowl commercials broadcast on live TV will be different from those seen by Super Bowl viewers streaming the game online. But online viewers will still be able to catch the TV commercials shortly after they're broadcast.
Stream the Super Bowl to Your Smartphone
If you'll be away from your TV or PC on Super Bowl Sunday, don't lose hope: The NFL will also stream Super Bowl XLVI to your mobile device via its NFL Mobile app--but only if you're a Verizon customer. If you are, you can download the NFL app to your iPhone, Android tablet, or other mobile device, and stream the Super Bowl live no matter where you are (though for optimal viewing we recommend connecting to a high-speed wireless network). The NFL Mobile app also includes live feeds of player statistics and play-by-play updates from the field, making it an excellent alternative if you're not spending Sunday in front of the TV. If you aren't a Verizon customer, you may still be able to stream the game from the mobile version of the NFL website by pointing your smartphone's Web browser to m.nfl.com, but we won't know for sure until game day.
Use a Third-Party Streaming Service
If none of the above options work for you, you may need to rely on a third-party streaming service for your Super Bowl fix. Diehard fans have been running unofficial Super Bowl streams for years, and even though the NFL is finally catching up with its own tech, you can bet that a few live Super Bowl streams will be available on popular video streaming services like Ustream and Justin.tv.
These two services offer mobile apps in addition to streaming directly via their respective websites, and you may have to rely on these apps for watching Super Bowl XLVI on the go if you're not a Verizon subscriber. Remember that these third-party streaming services provide unauthorized broadcasts that may not be legal, and by accessing them you could potentially end up on the wrong end of a copyright infringement lawsuit (for which PCWorld isn't responsible). So be careful--we don't think the Super Bowl is worth the risk.
If you have access to a Windows or Linux PC, you can also stream video directly from other users via Sopcast, a peer-to-peer video streaming service with a penchant for providing live streams of popular sporting events. To do so you'll need to download the SopPlayer, create an account (for free) and find someone broadcasting the Super Bowl by clicking the "Live Channels" tab in the SopPlayer app and searching for a Super Bowl XLVI broadcast. If that doesn't work, you can also try searching popular sports forums for the IP addresses of sports fans running their own Super Bowl streams, but as with all peer-to-peer sharing services, you should exercise caution and good judgment in selecting who to share with.
Watching the big game in another country should be no trouble. While the NFL offers a variety of mirrors like NFL UK and NFL Japan that offer regional perspectives on American football, chances are you can probably stream the Super Bowl directly from the NFL website no matter which time zone you're in. NBC is a different story; if you live outside the United States, you might not be able to stream video from the NBC website since the network's broadcast rights may be limited to the United States. To watch the Super Bowl while abroad, you may need a proxy server or virtual private network (VPN) that is based in the United States and that can fool NBC's website into thinking you're watching from North America.
Of course, streaming video across a VPN can often degrade the quality of a stream to the point of rendering it almost unwatchable. However, a VPN, depending on your location, may be your only option for watching the big game. If that's the case, the easiest way to get started with a VPN is to pay for access to a reputable VPN service like StrongVPN, and then connect to a proxy server in the United States. Many tech-savvy sports fans did the same thing to stream the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and the process is pretty straightforward. For more information and service reviews, check out our comprehensive roundup of three popular personal VPN services. No matter which service or streaming method you choose, you should be ready to watch the Giants battle the Patriots on your PC, smartphone, or tablet this Super Bowl Sunday.