The Unsung Hero of Super Bowl LVIII – The Network!

Feb 27, 2024 | Blog, Extreme Networks

Every year for the Super Bowl, millions of people across the world tune into the live broadcast while tens of thousands of fans flock to the stadium for the biggest game of the year. What many fans and viewers might not realize is the intricacy of the digital network that ensures a seamless and engaging experience to host this major event.

At Super Bowl LVIII, the network handled a record-breaking 34.8 TB of data transfer, equivalent to streaming Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour movie on Netflix over 4,000 times or listening to Usher’s new album “Coming Home” over 10,500 times. With the average data consumption per device measuring in at 788 MB, marking a 19.4% increase year over year, the network was busy supporting fans to ensure a seamless digital experience.

For the 11th consecutive season, Extreme Networks served as the Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider of the Super Bowl, providing the NFL with insights into network performance and how fans engage digitally throughout their experience in the stadium. Through ExtremeAnalytics, the NFL is able to get insight into how fans engage throughout the game to create an immersive experience.

Setting the Stage for the Biggest Event of the Year

So, what goes into preparing for the biggest event of the year? It starts with the journey. As fans started heading to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl this year, they were running on Extreme Networks the whole way. From the airports to the roads, the hotels to the casinos, Extreme Networks powers Las Vegas. Extreme’s CCO Norman Rice explains in this video:

Engaging Fans from the Moment They Touch Down in Las Vegas

From the moment fans step off the plane, the goal is to create a seamless and exciting journey. Harry Reid International Airport was most fans’ first and last impression of the city, so the bar for creating an exceptional journey is high. The airport focused on eliminating potential network issues to accommodate the influx of passengers coming through the airport while maintaining safety and smooth operations. Harry Reid International Airport’s CITO talks about how the airport preps for large events all year, including this year’s Super Bowl:

Creating an Experience That Extends Throughout the City

Did you know two years of meticulous planning goes into preparing a host city for the Super Bowl? The NFL’s Deputy CIO, Aaron Amendolia, explains what goes into technology planning and how the network is leveraged to ensure operations, not only on game day but also during the lead-up and days after the Super Bowl:

How Did Fans Engage During Super Bowl LVIII?

Super Bowl LVIII was filled with thrilling moments that ignited fan excitement and fueled digital engagement. From the pregame ceremonies to big plays, the network supported a range of activities, from social media engagement to sports betting. ExtremeAnalytics provided the NFL with insights into how fans were engaging throughout the game, so real-time adjustments could be made to venue operations, such as opening additional concessions stands and identifying stadium bottlenecks, to provide fans the best possible game day experience.

Big Game Moments Driving Big Bandwidth Spikes

Super Bowl LVIII’s exciting moments piqued fan excitement and digital engagement! From the teams taking the field before the game to electrifying performances and major in-game moments, the network supported a variety of digital fan engagement applications from social media to sports betting and beyond.

Social Media Engagement

Social media is one of the most significant ways fans engage digitally during the game. Modern sports fans love sharing their experiences on a variety of platforms. Facebook has claimed the top spot for the last few years and remained there this year. Stealing the second spot this year is Twitter and, making its way into the top apps after falling out of the top 5 last year, third goes to TikTok.

Not only can we look into the top social media apps during the game, but we can also take that a step further and see what moments drove the most social engagement.

Pre-Game Engagement

During the Pre-Game ceremony, some moments caused big spikes, like the teams taking the field and the coin toss, but ultimately, the moment that drew the most social engagement was Reba McEntire’s singing of the National Anthem. McEntire’s performance created a 1.3 Gbps bandwidth spike on social media apps alone and a 13.2 Gbps bandwidth spike overall.

The First Quarter’s Big Moments

From kick-off through the rest of the first quarter, dozens of exciting plays captured fan interest. While a big 49ers’ play drew the most bandwidth use overall, the top moment for social media came at the end of the quarter when fans were hopeful for a big drive.

Major Plays in the Second Quarter

Going into the second quarter, moments like the 49ers quarterback getting sacked and Taylor Swift being shown on the big screen drew a lot of social engagement, but the big spike of the quarter came during the first touchdown. When the 49ers scored, bandwidth usage on social media spiked to 825.1 Mbps.

Usher’s Halftime Show Performance

The halftime show caused bandwidth spikes throughout its entirety, but two big moments stood out.

  1. The first major bandwidth spike occurred when Alicia Keys joined Usher on stage to sing their hit songs, “If I Ain’t Got You” and “My Boo.”
  2. The true biggest bandwidth spike was at the end of the performance when Lil Jon and Ludacris joined Usher to close out the show with the longest-running #1 single of 2004, “Yeah!”

 

The Second Half Kicks Off

The third quarter was filled with bandwidth spikes from major interceptions to fumbles that impacted the game, but the top moment for social engagement during the third quarter was the Chief’s 57 yard field goal. This field goal made it a 4-point game and created a social media bandwidth spike of 846.7 Mbps.

Fourth Quarter Excitement

With touchdowns, fumbles, sacks, and field goals, the fourth quarter was action-packed. Both teams kicked a field goal in this quarter, and both drew significant social media bandwidth spikes, but what fans captured the most during the fourth quarter was the 49ers’ blocked PAT attempt that left the team only a field goal ahead.

Heading Into Overtime

After a high-scoring fourth quarter, the game was forced into overtime. Social media bandwidth was high from the coin toss to the field goal that gave the 49ers the lead. However, the moment that drew the highest bandwidth usage was the overtime kickoff.

Post-Game Celebrations

After a game-winning touchdown, the red and yellow confetti started falling, and the Kansas City Chiefs players began celebrating. While all that was happening on the field, fans were sharing videos on social media, creating another social media bandwidth spike as they shared videos of Chiefs fans doing the team’s iconic tomahawk chop chant.

The Taylor Swift Effect on Super Bowl LVIII

Over the last year, Taylor Swift has taken the NFL by storm, with estimates showing that she generated the equivalent brand value of $331.5M for the Chiefs and the NFL. Not to mention her recent Eras Tour saw many shows take place at NFL stadiums where ExtremeAnalytics is deployed, and the data shows that Taylor’s concerts drove Wi-Fi fan engagement metrics that rivaled Super Bowl-level engagement. With Taylor Swift attending this year’s Super Bowl, we anticipated seeing Wi-Fi engagement metrics go off the charts, and they did! While Taylor was only on the screen for a brief moment during the second quarter, she caused a bandwidth spike (10.1 Gbps) as fans rushed to snap a picture.

The Super Bowl’s Behind the Scenes MVP

While Super Bowl LVIII was filled with all kinds of talent, the true unsung hero emerged not on the field but in the network infrastructure. The network seamlessly supported the fans and stadium operations, making the Super Bowl an immersive digital experience for fans. As the final whistle blew and confetti rained down, the network was there to keep everything connected and running, proving itself to be a behind-the-scenes MVP.

By Cammy Perry,

Content Marketing Specialist

View source version on extremenetworks.com
Source:
Extreme Networks

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