Did Tech Make the Super Bowl Better?
NBC’s live stream was surprisingly good.
Caddy Twitter comments, Shazam-able commercials and ads that live long lives on YouTube. The Super Bowl has been tech-enabled for years. What was new this year? And did it make a difference?
The biggest plus was live-streaming of the game by NBC — bringing the play to the 9 percent of Americans who, according to a new report from Deloitte, have cut the cord on their cable or satellite service. (Another 11 percent have said that they expect to.) The game streamed pretty well, only occasionally going down or getting garbled. Online was in some ways a richer experience than regular TV, with the ability to choose from five different camera angles and display two of them at once using picture-in-picture.
There were downsides, though. The stream was a minute or more behind the cable broadcast. So if you heard your neighbors cheering or booing, you’d have to wait a little while to know why. Another downer — at least for her fans — was the omission of Madonna’s halftime show. Also, the Shazam app failed in our multiple attempts to recognize the audio and provide bonus content.
Madonna was probably the most polarizing phenomenon online — with some tweets lauding her but many dissing mercilessly the quality of the show and the “world peace” message that glimmered at the end. “Good lord. Madonna is spectacularly poor here. Sub X-Factor bad,” tweeted one detractor.
(Twitter was certainly active. The company reported a highpoint 12,233 tweets per second at the end of the game. In related news, Google announced the top search terms during the game: Madonna, halftime show, Patriots, Tom Brady and Giants.)
Budweiser’s "Prohibition is Over" ad — one of the most tweeted at one point — also brought out the crankiness and quickly got political, largely with calls for legalizing pot. “Our bud tastes better and won’t kill you,” wrote one. “Where’s the follow up with all the domestic violence and the DUI’s?” wrote another. Ouch!
Speaking of pain, Giants tight end Travis Beckum’s torn ACL quickly became a hot topic. “Hate hearing about Travis Beckum torn ACE. That’s a real heartbreaker,” tweeted Joe Namath.
Also out of the game was the NFL pro tweets app. Either the creators forgot about it or they suffered a tech breakdow. The latest entries were from the morning of Dec. 29.
ESPN’s ScoreCenterXL, however, was almost instantly updated throughout the game, featuring a running account of every play should someone have turned away for a moment. Its news feed was fast refreshed with everything from overall analysis of the game to an account of musician M.I.A. flipping the middle finger during the halftime show.
Chevy’s GameTime app may have been the most entertaining, with a seemingly endless flow of interesting trivia questions and factoids. And, of course, it featured videos of all the Chevy commercials.
All the apps and online activity did have one downside, however. They made it a lot harder to actually watch the game as it was happening.