We’ve all seen how fast TV awards shows, series and scandals can ignite millions of Tweets–but sports programs continue to pull in the highest levels of social engagement. So it’s no surprise everyone from Met Life Stadium to Shazam is gearing up for a tidalwave of online activity this Sunday.
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Last year, so many live spectators were also recording, commenting on and watching the game on smartphones and tablets that the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans had to shut down live streaming at the game. This year, to give all the live-Tweeters, photo-uploaders and status-updaters at the game a better chance of uninterrupted internet connection, the NFL and Fox Sports will block live streams of the game inside the Met Life Stadium.
The NFL will offer attendees an app with exclusive content, but will not allow users to stream or watch replays at the stadium. It’s only fair to mention that Super Bowl attendees pay thousands to see the game live instead of on a screen, but the decision to restrict streaming to preserve bandwidth makes an interesting statement about how much we rely on smartphone streaming to supplement our offline experiences and how valuable social sharing is to the NFL and to the entertainment industry as a whole.
Even if the stadium is prioritizing outgoing social sharing over streaming, you can be sure viewers at home will have plenty of options for second-screen experiences.
The NFL launched a new mobile app this week, called NFL Now, to accommodate the increase in mobile consumers. The NFL reports seeing a 33% increase in the number of fans watching digital video and a 152% growth in mobile viewership. The app will be promoted on 2 TV ads during the game and will be a resource for fans to connect to even more game-related content. In efforts to stay social, the NFL has also partnered with Twitter to distribute content. No surprise, given that Twitter was mentioned in 26 of the 52 national TV commercials aired during last year’s Super Bowl. Advertisers are very aware that Twitter is where fans go at game time.
Advertisers have traditionally assumed that Facebook carries less weight than Twitter for real-time social sharing: the social media behemoth was mentioned just 4 times in last year’s Super Bowl commercials. Looking to close that gap, Facebook will team with Fox Sports, the game broadcaster, to display Facebook and Instagram posts real-time alongside typical game stats. Facebook is also creating a website to chart user data and comments in real time and encouraging athletes to discuss the game on Facebook.
Shazam will be launching a new interactive timeline feature to highlight the game’s best plays, performances, Tweets, and ads (yes, ads should be included as one of the “bests” of the Super Bowl). Considering the game has always been one of the most-Shazamed events of the year, the company decided to go all in with a collection of features that will enhance the experience: the app will alert 11 million Shazam users who have tagged Bruno Mars or Red Hot Chili Peppers to tune in for performances, users who Shazam Bruno Mars will get exclusive access to music videos and Bud Light’s ad for Cool Twist bottles will feature a world premiere and 500,000 free downloads of Afrojack’s new song, “Ten Feet Tall”. Shazam will provide users who try to tag even one song from a Super Bowl ad with a list of all the songs played in ads during the broadcast.
Considering a 30-second Super Bowl ad spot costs $4 million, brands are looking to squeeze every drop of consumer interest out of the placements they pay for. Extra engagement on native apps and social media sites is a great way to do it. And, in a democratic turn of events, social media allow brands with smaller advertising budgets to insert themselves in a national conversation at no cost at all. This Sunday is sure to be full of excitement, upsets and touchdowns–and some football, too.
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