Blog Analytics

3 Wi-Fi Takeaways from Super Bowl LIV

Ryan Hall Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 7 Feb 2020

As the Official Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Analytics Provider of Super Bowl LIV, Extreme Networks is thrilled to share the mobile and application usage metrics from this year’s Big Game, the finale of another exciting NFL season.

In the infographic below, we break down how fans utilized the in-stadium Wi-Fi network at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, including:

  • Fan Wi-Fi Usage: Adoption Percentage; Number of Unique and Concurrent Devices Connected
  • Network Data Consumed: Peak Throughput, Total Data Transferred, Average Usage per Device
  • Application Preferences: Top Application Usage Across Social, Streaming, Sports, and more  

This is the 7th consecutive year the NFL has used our Wi-Fi analytics solutions to monitor for network and application performance at the Super Bowl. With access to seven years of historic data, Extreme, in partnership with the NFL, is able to understand exactly which data points equate to a truly successful, ‘connected’ sports event.  We can also show how fans’ mobile behaviors have evolved over time.

To explore Wi-Fi usage and application trends from Super Bowl LIV, check out the infographic below!

There’s certainly a lot of data to unpack here, so to highlight the more compelling trends we identified, here are Three Takeaways from Super Bowl LIV Wi-Fi Usage.

  1. Total Data Transferred Hits New Super Bowl (and Event) High Mark

At last year’s Super Bowl, we recorded an astounding 24.05 TB of data transferred across the Wi-Fi network, a significant jump from Super Bowl LII which recorded 16.31 TB.  The high mark for total data transferred was surpassed once again, with 26.42 TB of data transferred over Wi-Fi during Super Bowl LIV; that is comprised of 11.1 TB before kickoff and 15.32 after kickoff.  

Already an impressive accomplishment on its own, it’s even more impressive when you consider last year’s Super Bowl saw nearly 10K more attendees due to smaller stadium capacity.  For those keeping score at home, the 26.42 TB of data also surpasses the previously documented record for data transferred over Wi-Fi for any sports event, accomplished by a football game at Ohio State in Ohio Stadium, at 25.6 TB this fall.  For context, that stadium holds just over 100K fans, and it was reported nearly 75K connected devices during this event; the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami – where Super Bowl LIV was held – has seating for 65,326 fans.       

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  1. Average Usage per Device (MB) Sees Year-Over-Year Spike

Total data transferred over Wi-Fi will always be a notable metric when reporting on digital fan activity at large sports events like the Super Bowl, college football, and others. That said, there’s another metric to highlight to help paint the picture of how fans utilized Wi-Fi in-stadium, and the quality of that experience during the course of the event: average usage per device. 

Measured in megabytes, the average usage per device is calculated by dividing the total number of connected devices by the total data transferred.  71% of fans in-stadium connected to Wi-Fi during the game – that’s 44,358 unique connections.  That means average usage per device (MB) was 595.6 MB at Super Bowl LIV!

Let’s put a little context around what an average usage of 595.6 MB per device represents.  For starters, the previous two Super Bowls recorded 407.3 and 492.3 average usage per device (MB), respectively.  That means average usage for connected devices at Super Bowl LIV increased over 100 megabytes per connected device compared to last year.  How much is 100 MB of data?  Well, it’s roughly enough to surf the web for approximately 4 hours, stream music for 1 hour and 20 min, use Google maps for one hour of navigation, or send/receive 100 text emails, including attachments.  That’s some serious data usage and underscores the importance of high-performance in-stadium network technology to support the heightened bandwidth demands of today’s connected fans.  Maybe the most important insight of all, average usage per device also allows a venue of any size to fairly compare network performance to larger in-venue installs. 

  1. Application Usage Preferences Remain Predictable with Some Surprises

In a lot of ways, Wi-Fi and application usage insights from the Super Bowl is a microcosm of the broader mobile behaviors, interactions, and preferences we see every day in this part of the world.  For that reason, many of the top application insights are somewhat predictable.  There are still some surprises though!

For example, we predictably see that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat were the top four social apps used, total clients and total volume.  In previous Super Bowls, however, Snapchat consistently placed in the top 2-3 social apps.  Perhaps the platform’s popularity may be slipping due to the emergence of other video sharing social apps (like TikTok) and video sharing in already-popular social apps taking off (like Instagram, the primary driver of bandwidth this year at 1.39 TB of data). 

There was year over year consistencies under sports applications and streaming applications too.  For streaming, iTunes (aka Apple Music) and YouTube continue to be fixtures.  The same is true for Netflix, even though one may question why fans are streaming TV shows and movies while at the Super Bowl.  Finally, from the sports application standpoint, the NFL app has grown significantly over the past few Super Bowls in both volume and client count, and is first and second under top sports apps for these categories, respectively. This growth may relate to fans accessing the stadium with mobile tickets via the NFL app, which the League aimed for 10,000 mobile entries this Super Bowl.  This number will surely increase at future Super Bowls since mobile ticketing is a priority initiative for The League. 

If you would like to learn more about the NFL’s technology strategy, how Wi-Fi fits in, and what it takes to digitally prepare for the Super Bowl, listen to our on-demand panel session with members of the NFL IT team.  To explore how Extreme Networks works with the NFL and its team, visit our NFL partner page.

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