The sun shining, a cool breeze carrying you the scents of fresh fireworks, and endless WiFi to live post, Tweet, etc. to your heart’s content – it’s heaven on earth. It’s too good to be true.
And, it was.
Here are some numbers for you. At Sunday’s football game, unmatched data flow was recorded: Verizon data connections rose 800% from last year in New Orleans and AT&T (which accounted for less data than Verizon) said total data usage was 624GB with a peak between 5 and 6pm, before the game started. With 24.9 million tweets, Super Bowl XLVIII was the biggest US live TV event on Twitter and set the record for the most-watched TV event in US history for the 4th time in 5 years with 111.5 million viewers.
If you weren’t in the stadium and didn’t subscribe to the necessary TV stations to watch, Fox and ESPN both offered live streaming on their websites. If at the game, both of these sites were blocked from mobile devices. Why? To preserve WiFi for those to use their mobile devices for other reasons – selfies, videos, etc. In fact, carriers modified the amount of bandwidth for uploading and downloading so more could be shared with the outside world than brought into the stadium.
By far the most interesting part of the mobile Super Bowl was the use of location. If a mobile device was within a few feet of a particular beacon, it would receive a notification like “turn left here for Entry Gate B” or a coupon for XLVIII hats. Questions about information collection were pushed aside out of the sheer cool factor.
Mobile devices have drastically changed how we’re “doing” one of America’s biggest game days. With early ad leaks, Budweiser pulled ahead and tugged on hearts with the infallible cute puppy play. Advertisers waiting until the 4th quarter to show their creativity were greatly disappointed with the Seahawks’ “beast mode” and the number of people choosing sleep over football. Due to WiFi restrictions and congested cellular connections, people at the game but were almost forced to interact with those around them. Location beacons brought people offers of the real, physical world without breaking face-to-face interactions.
This is GREAT. Mobile devices are helping people find what they want, share experiences with people unable to fork up a four-figure ticket price, and really get the most out of a real-world event. Location-based and relevant pushes thanks to context-aware capabilities (I don’t want a hat, I want a beer), applications available to those inside the stadium, the possibilities for next year’s big game are endless. Maybe Doritos’ time machine ad isn’t too far from true after all.