Super Bowl LI may have made history as the first Big Game to go into overtime, but that may not have translated into record ratings, or, as it turns out, record social media engagement, either. According to Facebook, 64 million people posted 240 million interactions its social network last night, an increase over last year’s 60 million users and 200 million posts during what was, then, an arguably less intense game. But that’s still down from 2015’s record-breaking 65 million people and 265 million engagements.
This year, Twitter says that more than 27.6 million tweets were posted about #SB51 during the live telecast, including pre- and post-game conversations. Last year, that figure was 27 million. But Twitter also wasn’t able to surpass 2015’s record of 28.4 million tweets posts before, during and after the game.
What is notable this year is the role mobile and video played. Over 90 percent of Facebook interactions took place on mobile, the company says. And there were 262 million views of Super Bowl-related videos on the platform. This was helped by NFL’s posting of official content, including Live video and other behind-the-scenes action.
In 2016, there was some speculation that the downturn in social media engagement had to do with the fact that the game itself was not that interesting. But the same could not necessarily be said of last night’s matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. While the Falcons took an early lead of 21-0, the Pats came back in the fourth quarter, tying the game and sending it into overtime. If anything could have flamed a surge of social media postings, this sort of turnaround should have fit the bill.
But Twitter and Facebook only showed smallish increases over last year’s numbers, and are still down from the record-breaking game in 2015.
What gives? It comes down to who’s watching. According early reports, the viewership numbers for this year’s Super Bowl are either below or roughly on par with last year’s game, but are down from the record audience seen in 2015. Combine this with the fact that the NFL has been struggling with lower ratings in recent months – with even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying he didn’t know why.
Goodell hinted that the way people consume media is changing, which is why the NFL has increased its efforts online, through properties like Snapchat and YouTube. Or, in other words, cord-cutting is impacting NFL viewership numbers, and the NFL is now trying to reach out to the younger generation of fans in new ways.
For example, on Facebook-owned Instagram, 44 million people had 150 million interactions on Instagram related to the Super Bowl. Snapchat hasn’t revealed its numbers, but it certainly had a piece of the action, as well. This year, the teen-friendly network had four official Super Bowl sponsors, including Amazon, Budweiser, Marriott, and Pepsi. Other brands operating during the pre-game included GrubHub, GE, and Taco Bell.
The top social moments for Super Bowl LI were fairly consistent between platforms, with key gameplays and Lady Gaga’s halftime performance ranking high among the most tweeted or posted-about events.