Thanks to the Internet, the Super Bowl has risen to a new level of entertainment. Seriously, you don’t even have to be watching the game to follow along in all its viral glory: from literary (ahem)-themed memes of Lady Gaga during the National Anthem, to gifs of Beyoncé’s near-tumble during Half-Time, to adorable puppy-themed condiment commercials.
In a lot of ways, the Internet makes the Super Bowl possible. But what about the other way around: how exactly does the Super Bowl make the Internet possible?
The Super Bowl was expected to drive a record amount of web traffic this year—nearly 10 terabytes—at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, which packed nearly 72,000 (mostly Broncos) fans.
The number one bandwidth-sapping application was the venue’s Stadium Application, designed to enhance the game-day experience with features like mobile ticketing, mobile food and beverage ordering, stadium navigation, and a “game center” for HD video replays.
To accommodate the astronomical demand for data, Aruba Networks provided 1,300 11ac WiFi access points throughout the venue, along with 12,000 supported beacons (or, one under every 100 seats).
After the Big Game, AT&T alone hit 5.2 TB of data usage at the stadium and surrounding tailgate party areas (the equivalent of about 15 million selfies), while mobile traffic from event-related activities totaled more than 28.4 TB (or 81 million social media posts with photos).
Of course, the majority of Americans (you know, those of us who don’t have the $4,500 in extra cash to cough up for last minutes tickets), had no business at Levi’s Stadium. Like Thanksgiving and apple pie, we would stick to the great American tradition of attending or hosting game-watching parties where we would eat way too much bean dip, drink one too many Budweisers, and lament the fact that we would still have to trek into work the next morning.
That’s why, for the first time this year, CBS made the broadcast available for free streaming on computers and tablets, through smart devices like Apple TV, and via streaming services like Roku.
The network spared no expense to make sure that the stadium was equipped to capture every square inch of action, Beyoncé tumbles and all, including: 256 microphones, over 100 pre-game cameras, 16 camera angles from eight new Pylon Cameras, 5,000 cameras to capture 360-degree game footage, and three aerial camera systems.
While CBS hasn’t yet shared the hard numbers in terms of online viewership, the number is expected to break last year’s streaming record, set by NBC, for 1.3 million viewers.
When all is said and done, I can’t say I’m surprised by the numbers. As the country’s most-watched, annual event, the Super Bowl is a viral goldmine. And whether fans are crammed into the stadium or their living rooms, the need to be (and stay) connected during the action is becoming, quite possibly, the most important American tradition of all.