Last Sunday’s Super Bowl set a record for the most-watched televised program in United States history. But we weren’t just watching on TV: Sports enthusiasts tuned in from cell phones and tablets; they streamed instant replays and game statistics; they bought Pepsi merchandise during halftime through Twitter. It was the most technology-enabled Super Bowl to date. With viewers streaming in using multiple platforms, companies showed off their latest and greatest technology. From sideline tablets to integrated advertising, we highlight just a sample of the tech experienced through Super Bowl XLIX.
Microsoft has partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to bring higher-quality play review to the sidelines. The 2015 Super Bowl featured the use of Surface Pro tablets by each team, with the custom-built Sideline Viewing System (SVS) application. Previously, coaches and players used black-and-white, poor-quality photos for play evaluation during a game. The Surface Pro, modified to withstand extreme weather conditions, gave both teams the opportunity to receive almost real-time, color photos.
With millions of Super Bowl viewers plugged into the game from multiple platforms, Pepsi and ShopTV paired up this year to create a direct purchasing experience through various mobile and wireless applications. During halftime, viewers could buy merchandise related to Katy Perry’s performance through the new Twitter “buy now” button, the ShopTV app, or through Shazam. The campaign was an integrated advertising and merchandising experience, which we could see more of in the future.
New to the NFL this year: Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Zebra Technologies’ MotionWorks RFID chips were used by 17 pro teams throughout the 2014 season and, for the first time, in the XLIX Super Bowl. These chips, placed in the shoulder pads of each player, track their motion and gives real-time feedback and statistics previously not possible. Data, such as acceleration, velocity, distance ran, and impact measurements, can be relayed to coaches and broadcasters alike to provide a better sense of how players are performing, as well as game strategy.
U. of Phoenix Stadium’s Retractable Field Slides Into Place for Super Bowl – Sports Illustrated
The technology showcased at the Super Bowl wasn’t all consumer-driven; even the grass used for the big game was state of the art. The NFL installed a retractable grass field for the last week’s game, with the help of 13 tracks, 546 steel wheels, and a horsepower motor. The field was specifically designed for the unique shape of the University of Phoenix stadium and included its own irrigation system.
Reports show that almost 30 percent of online video traffic during the Super Bowl came from mobile phones. According to Adobe Digital Index, 2014 was the most digital sports year ever, with more instant streaming services and larger mobile screens resulting in an increase of watching on-the-go. This is a large new space marketers can take advantage of, with the average mobile viewer exposed to 66 percent more advertising than other viewers.