Super Bowl 50: Facebook, Twitter Activity Drops Steeply Versus Last Year

Super Bowl 50 - Facebook
Courtesy of Facebook

Users on Facebook and Twitter just weren’t as into Super Bowl 50 as they were last year’s contest — perhaps reflecting the lack of late-game theatrics this year or the plethora of hate-tweets about the Patriots’ Tom Brady in 2015.

On Facebook, the level of activity worldwide for SB50 was down 25% compared with last year, according to the social giant. Twitter posts among U.S. television viewers were down 49%, according to Nielsen figures, after record-breaking Super Bowl action on social nets last year.

CBS’s TV audience of 111.9 million for Super Bowl 50 was also down — although less dramatically — from NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX, which registered 114.4 million viewers. The data shows once again that the volume of Internet chatter does not neatly translate into television ratings.

This year, Facebook said about 60 million people joined the Super Bowl 50 conversation with 200 million posts, comments or likes, as the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10. In 2015, for the Patriots-Seahawks game, Facebook said more than 65 million users generated 265 million interactions.

On Sunday, 16.9 million tweets were sent by 3.8 million unique U.S. authors about CBS’ Super Bowl 50 telecast, down from 25.1 million tweets about Super Bowl XLIX, according to Nielsen. Out of the 2015 totals, 4.6 million tweets were sent by 1.4 million unique authors about ads that aired in CBS’s broadcast and livestream.

(UPDATE: Twitter said late Monday that 27 million Super Bowl 50 tweets were viewed 4.3 billion times worldwide, including those posted on third-party sites; a rep said that was measured over a period spanning three hours prior to the opening kickoff and three minutes after the game ended. The company did not provide comparable figures for 2015, when it said 36 million global tweets were posted during NBC’s live telecast starting three hours before kickoff and three hours after the game ended.)

Tellingly, on both Facebook and Twitter, the most social event from Super Bowl 50 wasn’t the game itself but the halftime show in which Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars shared the stage.

On Twitter, the most-tweeted minute for Super Bowl 50 was at 8:44 p.m. ET, when 162,000 tweets were sent in the 60 seconds following the halftime show, per Nielsen.

Facebook also said the conclusion of the Beyoncé-Coldplay-Bruno Mars halftime show was the top social moment. That was followed by the end of the game; Lady Gaga’s national anthem; the opening kickoff; and the Panthers’ Kony Ealy sacking Broncos QB Peyton Manning and recovering the resulting fumble early in the 4th quarter.

Among the halftime show acts, Coldplay was most popular on Facebook (with 9.3 million interactions by 6 million people), followed by Beyoncé (5.2 million people, 8.8 million interactions) and Bruno Mars (3.8 million people, 5.3 million interactions).

Facebook’s overall drop in Super Bowl activity came even after the company last month launched Sports Stadium, a new section aggregating posts, videos, commentary and other content for live sports. Last week Facebook touted the results of a study commissioned from Nielsen showing correlations between NFL-related Facebook interactions and the size of the TV audience for corresponding games.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Instagram said 38 million users had 155 million interactions on the photo- and video-sharing service related to Super Bowl 50. The service didn’t measure activity for last year’s game.

Pictured: Facebook’s live-updated Super Bowl 50 page.

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  1. Todd Spangler says:

    A Twitter representative said in an email, “We don’t have apples-to-apples figures” for 2015 vs. 2016 because the time frames are different. “This year it was 3 hours before and 3 min after whereas last year it was +/- 3hr.”

  2. Allen says:

    According to @twitterdata Twitter total audience: 4.3B views of #SB50. Tweets on & off Twitter, based on 27m Tweets (inc. pre/post game).

    • Todd Spangler says:

      Our updated story cites those figures; however, Twitter didn’t provide comparable numbers for 2015.

      • Allen says:

        Todd, Found the following comp’s from @twitter data #SB49: Reach of #SB49: 2.5bn views of game-related Tweets (based on 36m Tweets sent during game +/-3hr) – via @TwitterData Thanks for your follow-up! Allen Brzozowski

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