Turns out that the 400 miles of data cable, 12,000 network ports, 1,300 WiFi access points, 1,200 Bluetooth beacons, and 40 Gb/s of available bandwidth at Levi’s Stadium did a good job of helping fans stay connected at Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers front office announced today that fans used 10.1 terabytes (TB) of data on Levi’s Stadium WiFi network during the Super Bowl, setting a new record and eclipsing the 6.2 TB of WiFi data used during Super Bowl 49 last year at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“The performance of Levi’s Stadium’s connectivity was nothing short of amazing,” NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle said in a statement. “It blew away all our previous records and provided strong consistent connectivity for our fans to share their memories. We were very pleased.”
The NFL said that the infrastructure helped support wireless performance that had “never been seen before at a single sporting or entertainment event.” It noted how Levi’s Stadium is the first venue to transfer 10 terabytes of data over a WiFi network.
From 6 a.m to 11 p.m. on Sunday, fans used 9.3 TB of data while on the network; media used 453 GB.
Other records include total unique WiFi users (27,316) and peak concurrent users (20,300). Those beat previous records set during Super Bowl 49 last year at 25,936 and 17,322, respectively.
Another record was the continuous WiFi bandwidth, which was above 3.0 Gbps for more than four hours on Sunday.
Data compiled from the in-stadium Distributed Antenna System also showed that 15.9 TB of data was used by fans connected via their wireless carrier, which is more than double than what was used at last year’s Super Bowl. Verizon reported 7 TB transferred over its network and Mobile Sports Report has the breakdown for the three other carriers: AT&T at 5.2 TB, T-Mobile at 2.1 TB, and Sprint at 1.6 TB.
Overall download speeds were up, too, with the four carriers ranging from an average of 15.1 to 23.2 Mbps speeds (Mbps) throughout the game — that’s 3 to 3.5 times faster than last year’s averages.
Verizon estimated that more than 35,000 unique devices were connected during the Super Bowl, which is about half of the 71,088 that attended Super Bowl 50. The carrier also provided information on what exactly its customers were doing on their phones at the game (Facebook was the most popular “social app):
- 19.82% Video
- 19.62% Web-browsing
- 17.67% Social media sharing
- 15.96% Cloud
- 2.29% Music
- 1.44% Messaging
- 1.37% Email
- .97% Navigation
- 20.86% Other
Verizon, a partner of Levi’s Stadium, set-up a command center at Super Bowl 50 to monitor connections.
Verizon's Super Bowl center is monitoring the stadium section-by-section and can provide capacity where it's needed. pic.twitter.com/N46iGAyTHL
— Harry McCracken ?? (@harrymccracken) February 8, 2016
All four carriers invested heavily in their infrastructure around and inside Levi’s Stadium to ensure fans could stay connected during the Super Bowl. The $1.2 billion stadium, located in Silicon Valley and built in 2014, is known as a somewhat of a tech mecca in the sports world with the robust WiFi network and the ability for fans to order food and watch replays from their seat with a smartphone.
The fact that so many fans use the Wi-Fi network, along with the data from wireless carriers, shows that they are using their smartphones more than ever at live sporting events. This trend is something that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal talked about at the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month.
Shaq noted how the new Sacramento Kings arena — hailed as the “21st Century Colosseum” — will enable teams to engage more with their fans, perhaps knowing what food and drink they ordered during their last visit and asking them if they’d like the same order delivered to their seat.
However, Cuban brought up an interesting point, noting that he doesn’t want his arena full of people looking down at their smartphones for the entire game. He said the “energy you feel when you walk into an arena is the most valuable part of our product we own.”
“I learned very quickly that anytime I have somebody looking down at their phone, I lose a little bit of them,” Cuban said. “We try to do everything possible to keep fans from using technology while the game is being played.”
On a related note, CBS reported on Monday that it also broke Super Bowl records with its live stream. Fans watching the big game online consumed more than 315 million total minutes of game coverage and watched the feed for an average of 101 minutes each. The average minute audience was 1.4 million.