Wi-Fi Engagement Insights from Super Bowl LII

February 9, 2018 Ryan Hall

After all the buildup, hype, and anticipation, Super Bowl LII has finally come and gone.  With a thrilling win over the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles are this year’s Super Bowl Champions - the first championship in their franchise’s history.  Now begins the post-game rhetoric and analysis: ‘how did the Eagles overcome the Patriots, who were the key players, what were the game-changing moments?’  Game-changers weren’t exclusively on the field during this year’s Super Bowl, they were in the stands as well and they have some post-game analysis of their own. 

For the 5th straight year, Extreme Networks was named the Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider of the Super Bowl, delivering cloud-based Wi-Fi analytics from the Super Bowl’s in-stadium Wi-Fi network.  ExtremeAnalytics provides granular insights into how the network performed throughout the event, as well as providing a detailed understanding of the mobile engagement behaviors of connected fans.  The analytics engine allows network managers to identify network interferences, usage spikes during key moments in the game, and fans’ preferred social media apps (in addition to other apps), to name a few examples.  All of this data enables the NFL and its individual teams to continue to create a quality, consistent in-stadium experience for fans.  It seems to be working, as Wi-Fi Usage and Satisfaction at NFL stadiums is on the rise.

Turning back to Wi-Fi usage at this year’s game, let’s take a look at how fans engaged at Super Bowl LII by referring to the infographic below.

Similar to how the game and result of each Super Bowl is unique, how fans utilized the Wi-Fi network at each Super Bowl is unique as well.  That said, over-arching usage trends are absolutely recognizable year over year. 

Not surprisingly, overall usage continues to increase year over year – specifically the percentage of fans who accessed the Wi-Fi network during the event – which was an impressive 40,033 fans, or 59% of those in attendance.  This is a 10% increase from Super Bowl LI which saw 49% of fans in attendance access Wi-Fi.  The peak number of fans concurrently connected to Wi-Fi this year was 25,670, which is actually a slight decrease from Super Bowl LI (27,191).  The amount of data transferred across the Wi-Fi network continues to grow year over year as well; another impressive usage metric, fans at Super Bowl LII transferred 16.31 TBs of data across the stadium’s network, and 2.6 TBs of that data was generated from social media.  

The inherent capabilities of networking technologies continue to improve, as does the sophistication and breadth of in-stadium Wi-Fi deployments.  This correlates with the enhanced capabilities of devices today: fans’ evolution of and increased reliance on their devices and applications (auto-authentication to Wi-Fi/Hotspot 2.0, move toward more video-based and streaming content consumption, cultural digitization of our society, etc.) naturally increases the amount of bandwidth consumed, placing heavier demands on in-stadium networking technologies.  In the case of the Super Bowl, what’s equally interesting is how the total amount of transferred data is broken down and how outside factors influence Wi-Fi usage.

If we look at the previous two Super Bowls, the pre-event Wi-Fi usage is smaller compared to Super Bowl LII.  Why is that? Super Bowl L and Super Bowl LI were hosted in Santa Clara and Houston, respectively, which have much warmer climates during the winter months and as such planned their pre-game festivities outside of the stadiums.  Super Bowl LII in Minnesota saw a kick-off temperature of 3 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest Super Bowl on record to-date.  Because of these conditions the NFL planned a significant portion of their pre-game festivities in-stadium to offer fans a reprieve from the frigid weather temperatures.  For this reason, the transferred data pre-game Super Bowl to Super Bowl was comparably much higher whereas the transferred data in-game remained relatively flat year over year.  Generally speaking, the inverse can also occur with in-stadium Wi-Fi usage: for example, if it’s raining during a game in an open-air stadium you’ll likely see a significant drop in fans connecting to Wi-Fi.  Understandably few fans want to risk a damaged phone due wetness (even to connect to Wi-Fi).

These were just a few Wi-Fi insights from this year’s Super Bowl but they offer some compelling trends related to fan engagement moving forward, and underscore the importance of deploying in-stadium Wi-Fi connectivity as part of the fan experience.  Not to mention it speaks to the power that Wi-Fi analytics delivers to teams and their venues.  For more resources related to the NFL, Super Bowl, and in-venue Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi analytics check out the assets below!    

About the Author

Ryan Hall

Ryan is a Vertical Marketing Manager at Extreme Networks.

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