Attending the Super Bowl is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences we want to share as we enjoy. Thanks to technology, the lucky fans who can live it in real time can take their excitement beyond the physical boundaries of the venue. The most exciting moments impact how fans are engaging digitally across the stadium before the game starts, during the game, and after it ends. Extreme Networks is about to embark on its 10th consecutive Super Bowl as The Official Wi-Fi Solutions Provider of the NFL and each regular and post season is able to map digital engagement across the stadium. These peaks and valleys of data usage can be closely matched to what we believe is the intensity, emotions and excitement of the crowd. What’s more, it gives the NFL and teams key insights into fan preferences, behavior and operational efficiencies.
What we’ve learned over the past several years is that the greater the emotion, the higher level of shared data, and vice versa. NFL stadiums use solutions like ExtremeAnalytics to spot opportunities when the heart rate increases and data peaks:
The Super Bowl is one of the most digitally engaged events across the globe. Fans pack stadiums ready to cheer on their favorite team or just immerse themselves in the experience of one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
Much like the heartbeat of excited fans, the stadium’s network bandwidth usage starts to spike just before kickoff, with anticipation of what is to come. The National Anthem and pre-game ceremonies tend to get fans digitally engaged as they want for kickoff. Social media platforms like Tik Tok, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are flooded with posts, photos and videos of fans smiling, jumping and breathing the pre-game excitement.
The game begins, and fans’ heartbeats, like the amount of data shared, stabilize—big hits, near misses, touchdowns that could have been. As the game progresses, one of the most anticipated moments for fans and the world comes: The halftime show—World-class artists perform their best songs and the stadium begins to sing in unison. The show’s lights, performers, and energy are unparalleled, as is the volume of data shared by fans streaming and recording every second of it.
When the game’s last play comes, the team enters the red zone and fans’ hearts race with each passing lane. The same goes for the data shared by the passionate fans of the winning team as they relish the once-in-a-lifetime experience when their team has managed to win the Super Bowl.
Last year, 31.2 TB of data was shared over the Wi-Fi network at Super Bowl LVI in SoFi Stadium. By putting the data in context, it would be equivalent to twice the storage of the US Congress Library or 33% of the entire catalog of a video streaming platform like Netflix. With this volume of data at its disposal, the League can gain valuable insights into fan behavior, improving its decision-making and operational efficiency— advancing the fan experience.
The massive Super Bowl data spikes have allowed the NFL to have a new standard for the upcoming season. Wi-Fi Analytics tell a story. A story about fan preferences, about what gets them the most digitally engaged in the stadium, about how they move about during breaks or halftime. Essentially, the Wi-Fi data becomes a guidepost for the League to operationally prepare itself to be more efficient, improve security operations and deliver an enhanced experience the following year.
“To think that that capacity is having a peak and that you need to have the infrastructure to support that capacity plus, more in case of an event or a failover just really, you’re planning for really high throughput, really high data transfer events and there’s a massive amount of infrastructure and planning that goes into that.”– Aaron Amendolia, NFL Deputy CIO
According to FastCompany “It’s Aaron Amendolia’s job to ensure that things run smoothly should that data spike be even bigger than expected.” ExtremeAnalytics helps Aaron and the League to prepare for the contingencies that come with an event of the magnitude of the Super Bowl. Collecting, analyzing and visualizing massive amounts of Wi-Fi data throughout the season leads to informed data-driven decisions while taking proactive steps to ensure a top-notch fan experience.
The excitement around the Super Bowl has existed since its beginning. But measuring that emotion through Wi-Fi analytics has enabled the NFL to uncover insights into fan behavior, improving the fan experience and adapting to unforeseen challenges like COVID-19. Just a few years ago, it was in question as to whether the Super Bowl would be played with fans in the stadium, due to health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. But the network came to the rescue.
“We were trying to get, less interpersonal interaction and use technology to protect the fan and to have a great game day experience that meant 100% mobile ticketing. That meant engagement that was based off of the device that meant connectivity everywhere and ubiquitous connectivity and reliability.” – Aaron Amendolia, NFL Deputy CIO
Analytics and connectivity were vital for the NFL to deliver a safe and satisfying fan experience during the 2021 Super Bowl. A turning point, where fewer fans also meant less physical interaction.
“It was the most innovative event in history at that point in time because it was the first time any major event went fully cashless, fully ticketless, fully anything and especially the human factor, just added another degree of complexity and then the story that goes along with it, which is, the drama of the event, just makes the package an unbelievable one.”- Norman Rice, Extreme Networks COO
The complexity of executing an event like the Super Bowl in the middle of a global pandemic played a key role in accelerating the NFL’s digital transformation. Wi-Fi and analytics became the plumbing and electricity of the League. After this moment there was no turning back.
The heartbeat behind the excitement of attending the Super Bowl becomes the data shared by the fan enjoying every second of the game. The Wi-Fi analytics behind every heartbeat is the foundation that drives the NFL to differentiate itself, adapting to the unpredictable contingencies of each season and uncovering new revenue opportunities. ExtremeAnalytics is the unifying force that helps the NFL innovate and deliver a once-in-a-lifetime enhanced experience while achieving better business outcomes for years to come.