The Super Bowl is one of my most favorite events of the year. As a marketer focused on the intersection of technology and media, I think the Super Bowl represents a mass example of where we are on the digital sociology curve. It’s the chance for marketers to put many of their media strategies and tactics in play to get near real-time feedback and results. Marketers are used to waiting days and weeks to measure results versus minutes. This year was no different and there were tipping points that point to bigger connected consumer trends.
CBS may be disappointed in the 111.9 million viewers that tuned in, since it was a drop from 114 million in 2015. But while CBS failed to set a ratings record, the network set a new record for their live-streaming record book. The network said their live stream averaged 1.4 million users per minute. As I’ve written about in previous posts, these numbers keep on growing for broadcasters. For example, Super Bowl XLIX live-streams only averaged 800,000 streams per minute. So, while CBS’s traditional broadcast was down, the network should be pleased at a whopping 176% increase from their earlier streaming record three years ago when their streams were 508,000 viewers.
The streams, via their digital properties (website and app) are new channels that will help the network sell better and more fully integrated sponsorships to marketers. In fact, this year marked the first time, in the short five-year history of Super Bowl streaming, that ads on the digital channels were aligned to the traditional broadcast. This is a great sign that networks are doing a better job bundling versus making advertisers buy à la carte. For those in the ad-solutions world, this has been a long time in the making! And for marketers, it’s one less buying headache.
Super Bowl 50 was held at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the heart of Silicon Valley. The stadium is the most wired in the nation. The amount of bandwidth going into it was immense. The stadium did a great job in their capacity planning, for what they knew would be the most connected fans they have ever seen. After all, people want to share (brag) to all their friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., about their Super Bowl experience in real-time. All that sharing means the stadium needs massive data pipe and robust wi-fi infrastructure.
Levis’ Stadium delivered, transferring a record 10.1 terabytes of data during the event. To put that in perspective, that is equivalent to streaming eight months of high-definition video – in one day! This also set a new record, surpassing the 6.2 terabytes of wi-fi used during Super Bowl XLIX last year at University of Phoenix Stadium and making Super Bowl 50 the first sporting venue to transfer 10 or more terabytes over a wi-fi network. We have all been to airports and even our home and office environments that can’t handle much smaller crowds. We should all take our hats off to the network engineers that delivered for the crowd of 71,000 at Super Bowl 50.
I say that streaming and wi-fi are the co-MVPs for Super Bowl 50. Without the steaming capacity and wi-fi network, a lot of fans would have been very unhappy over their chicken wings and seven-layer dip. It’s a pretty safe bet that the next Super Bowl will set new streaming and connectivity records. Consumer technology is getting better (faster) along with connectivity and the rapid combining of living room viewing options. If marketers were ever in doubt about looking for alternate channel or omnichannel strategies and tactics, I’m certain Super Bowl 50 will make even the toughest critic think twice.