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Summary:

The Packers may have prevailed over the Steelers, but the real winner of the Super Bowl XLV was Twitter: Users of the service sent out more than three million tweets related to the game on Sunday and helped to generate record TV viewing audiences for Fox.

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Sorry Packers fans, I gotta break it to you: The real winner of this year’s Super Bowl was Twitter, proving again that social media can deliver record audiences. The faceoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers marked the biggest Super Bowl since 1987, according to Fox.

If you had your TV turned on this past Sunday afternoon, chances are you were watching the Super Bowl: The National Football League championship game scored a 47.9/71 metered market rating, which means that 47.9 of all TV households in select markets were watching the game.

Of course, some people were simply attending a Super Bowl party elsewhere. That’s why Nielsen also measures the share of households that actually had their TV turned on during the time the game aired, and that number was 71 percent for this year’s Super Bowl. That’s up three percent from last year, even though the 2010 Super Bowl turned out to be the largest U.S. TV viewing audience ever with 106.5 million viewers, even beating that legendary M.A.S.H. series finale.

So how did the Super Bowl get so darn popular? Let’s take a look at some data from Trendrr that shows how much people tweeted about the Super Bowl:

Viewers of the game sent out more than three million tweets on Super Bowl Sunday, and those numbers don’t even include any mentions of the Super Bowl ads yet.

Speaking of ads: Did you think Groupon’s Tibet fiasco would get more traction on Twitter than the actual game? Well, you’re wrong: Super Bowl ads are a big deal, but people still care way more about the actual game than about the commercials.

Fox was quick to point out today that the game’s record ratings are even more significant “in the current era of fragmented television viewing,” and the network is right: Even hit shows get far smaller audiences in the age of 1,000 channels and millions of web sites than Cosby, M.A.S.H. & Co. did.

However, there’s one notable exception to this trend: Live TV events have been bigger than ever over the last two or three years. The MTV Music Awards, the World Cup, the Olympics, and even the Obama inauguration have all attracted record audiences, and this year’s Super Bowl seems to prove that this growth is far from over.

Twitter as the new global water cooler play a huge role in promoting these events as well as keeping people tuned in. In the old days, you’d simply change the channel if you got bored. Nowadays, you switch to the second screen and lament about the sound quality during the half time show.

It’s worth noting that Twitter isn’t the only platform playing a huge role in this ongoing resurgence of live TV. Facebook is obviously also significant. And blogs seem to play a growing role as well, as platforms like Tumblr embrace real time news feeds:

Combine all these forms of social media, and you got yourself a perfect storm. Add devices like the iPad that make the two screen experience even more enjoyable, and you’re set for a hurricane.

I honestly am the last person to ask when it comes for predictions for the next NFL season, except for one: The size of Super Bowl audiences can only go up, thanks to Twitter, Facebook & Co.

Check out this excellent NewTeeVee Live talk about Twitter as the new global water cooler from Twitter’s Robin Sloan:

Photo courtesy of Flickr user daveynin.

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  1. Actually Britney Spears was a bigger trend this week that the Super Bowl, in terms of trend duration and position on the Top 10. That is combining all trends involving the preshow, the game, the halftime show, all Super Bowl ads, mentions of the NFL Hall of Fame, hell, throw in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. Britney Spears was still bigger than all of them combined.

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  3. Great post Janko!

    I agree, this year’s Super Bowl was all about Social Media. From the immense amount of traffic on Twitter to television ads for LivingSocial, Groupon and Chatter.com, it was everywhere. But I think that Facebook won this year. They didn’t have to spend a dime, and every second commercial was encouraging viewers to like, visit or find them on Facebook. Easy publicity for Facebook.

    I actually wrote a very similar blog post yesterday titled “How Facebook Won The Super Bowl”. Check out why I think that Facebook was the real winner on the day.

    http://www.webfuel.ca/facebook-won-super-bowl

    Jason

  4. Interesting observations…..

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