New Mobile Data: How Did Apps Fare During Super Bowl LIII?

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

Despite complaints of this year’s Super Bowl being too boring by some viewers, the game did not fail to captivate the mobile crowd. The total number of devices that streamed the game reached 7.5 million this year, an increase of 20% over last year.


True to form, our data pointed to spikes in engagement in the hours leading up to and following the Super Bowl, with a few app categories performing extremely well. We uncovered that New England app users spent more time on their mobile devices during the Super Bowl, while Californians were perhaps more fixated on their televisions.


Find #1: Mobile Users Most Engaged With Apps Before and After the Game


Generally speaking, we’ve found that push notifications are opened at the highest rates near the middle and end of the day. These are the times when users are most likely to be looking for updates, whether they’re glancing at the afternoon news or winding down before bedtime.


Sports games follow a similar pattern, however there’s a caveat: reaching users with a notification at a pivotal moment can make all the difference in their brand perception. In fact, 63% of respondents to a Localytics survey on streaming apps said they were more likely to open and use an app if notifications from the app contained breaking news concerning sports teams.

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When it came to app engagement during the Super Bowl, time in app saw its biggest spikes right before kickoff around 6:00pm EST, with total time reaching nine minutes and one second in New England and seven minutes and ten seconds in California.


At this time, New Englanders were 31% more engaged with mobile apps than Californians. The curves for both regions dipped at 7:00pm and reached a minimum at 9:00pm, likely indicating strong audience interest in viewing the game’s final outcome on their televisions. Post Super Bowl, New Englanders took to their phones to celebrate as we saw time in app spike up to eight minutes twenty eight seconds.  


Drilling this data down by app launches and average session length, we find that launches actually peak at 9:00pm EST while session lengths dips dramatically after kickoff. The takeaway here is that people were more engaged with the game than to their phones, especially as it started to pick up in intensity around 9pm.

 

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It’s clear that the best time to interact with mobile app users is either before or at the very beginning of a sports game. Remember that users become more interested in the game in its final stages, so a push notification at that point will not yield great results. On the other hand, users will be much more engaged with apps following the action.

Find #2: Media and Entertainment Apps See Most Game Time Engagement


Since the Super Bowl is a huge night for media and entertainment outlets, mobile app launches under this industry vertical saw a huge boost.

 

  • At the beginning of the game: Average Entertainment app launches increased by 45% compared to the average of the previous four Sundays.

  • During halftime: Usage in entertainment apps also increased by 10%, while Social Networking apps increased by 6% and Music apps by 7%. Users were likely replaying Maroon 5 classics, discovering Travis Scott, and trying to remember who Big Boi is.

  • Near the end of the game: Sports app usage increased by 27%, a Entertainment by 12%, and Social Networking by 9%.


Find #3: Patriots Fans Post Game Mobile Activity Shows They're Loyal


Last year, we predicted that the Patriots would be back soon, but we weren’t sure how soon that would actually be. The fact that they played the Super Bowl and won this year is testament to the team’s dynasty (yes, we went there).

New England mobile users were 34% more engaged with apps at the very end of the game too, indicating strong fan loyalty. That type of spirit is unbeatable, so it would not be a surprise to see Tom Brady back next year.


Methodology

Localytics is the leading mobile engagement platform across more than 2 billion devices and 12,000 mobile and web apps. Localytics processes 3 billion data points daily. For this analysis, we adjusted timing to match Eastern Standard Time. The comparison between New England and California app engagement was done based on users who had at least one session during the game and opted to send us geographic information. In analyzing app category lift, we measured the average number of times users launched apps at each hour from 5:00 to 11:00 on Super Bowl Sunday. We then calculated the increase compared to average launches at the same times on the previous four Sundays. All data is US-based.

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