NFL Mobile users watched 10.3 million video streams during Super Bowl week

Remember the Football on your phone video from last August? Pretty funny, right? Imagine, people wanting to watch football on their phones, no matter where they go. Well last week a whole bunch of them did just that. According to the NFL, more than 10 million video streams were watched on the Verizon NFL Mobile platform during Super Bowl week, a jump of more than 400 percent from the year before.

Football on your phone? You bet!

For some reason we can’t get the league’s media arm or Verizon Wireless to provide the one stat we really want — how many people watched live Super Bowl action on a smartphone? Verizon at least is consistent — they have never provided any kind of statistic on NFL Mobile usage. Today the NFL Media folks issued a press release with all kinds of “record” numbers (we will post the whole thing below if you want to dig through it), but no discrete number for the game itself. We’ll get to the reason for that in a bit. But for the overall stats, we can sum up the numbers quickly: If there was football programming available last week, a lot of people watched it. And if it was available online or to mobile devices, so much the better.

What really drove traffic across all NFL Media properties this year was the NFL Mobile package. Remember, this year the “NFL Mobile from Verizon” app was actually available for smartphones from any carrier; the catch was, you could only get live game action if you were a Verizon subscriber and paid $5 more a month. Everyone else, including Verizon customers, could see highlights and NFL Network video content, like features and reports from Super Bowl week. The opening up of the app is probably the biggest reason why unique users of NFL Mobile properties during Super Bowl week increased 88 percent this year versus last, 11.2 million users compared to 6.0 million, according to NFL statistics.

Here’s where the stats get interesting: While it’s impressive that video streams across all NFL Media properties during Super Bowl week increased 56 percent this year compared to last, 34.0 million to 21.8 million, what’s really mind-boggling is that 10.3 million of those streams this year were consumed via the NFL Mobile app, a 416 percent increase over last year.

To repeat: Almost ONE-THIRD OF ALL NFL MEDIA VIDEO STREAMS were watched last week… on a phone.

One possible reason why neither the league nor Verizon wants to release actual game-day live action viewing numbers for NFL Mobile is that they may not be that impressive. Remember, only Verizon customers who ponied up the $5 extra “premium” fee could have watched the Fox simulcast on their phones, so it’s a smaller subset to begin with. And really, for the big game itself, most likely you were on a couch watching a big screen. (We here at MSR HQ did find the NFL Mobile live feed effective for when we had to roam into the kitchen for more snacks, or for other “breaks” necessary during the game. But we didn’t watch more than a few minutes of the game on the phone.) Plus, the Fox stream was available to tablets using its app or for PCs or laptops watching online, so that probably took away some potential phone-watchers of live game action.

During non-game times, however, smartphones appear to be leading the mobile video explosion. Even though tablets seem to make more sense for watching sports while mobile, it’s pretty clear that people are watching a lot of NFL video on the thing that never leaves their pocket or purse — their phone. Are other sports taking note? And now do you know why the NFL is pushing toward NFL Now? Stay tuned. And keep your phone and checkbook handy.

(full press release content below)


Wall-to-wall coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII produces double-digit spikes for NFL Network,, and NFL Mobile

NFL Media’s 11th year covering the Super Bowl produced record-breaking results across all platforms.


Providing expert analysis, the latest news and reports, special guest appearances, and matchup-related programming leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, NFL Network served up 140 total hours – including a record 86 live hours – of programming from 12 sets in eight locations across New York City and New Jersey, utilizing a roster of 40 on-air personalities with a combined 17 Super Bowl rings.

For Super Bowl week*, NFL Network averaged 175,000 viewers in Total Day and 226,000 viewers in Primetime – up +20% and +31%, respectively, compared to last year making this the most-watched Super Bowl week ever on NFL Network.

With more than 41 hours of Super Bowl coverage, SUPER BOWL LIVE averaged 141,000 viewers and up +60% over last year’s average audience (88,000 viewers).

On Super Bowl Sunday, NFL GAMEDAY MORNING averaged 657,000 viewers – up +10% over last year’s telecast (596,000 viewers), making this the most-watched NFL GAMEDAY MORNING ever.

NFL Network’s postgame audience peaked from 10:30PM-11:00PM with an average of 1.14 million viewers, up + 25% over last year’s highest postgame peak (906,000 viewers)

NFL Network averaged 313,000 viewers in Primetime on Super Bowl Sunday – up +52% compared to last year’s performance.

For the entire 2013 postseason, NFL Network averaged 148,000 viewers in Total Day – up +13% compared to last year’s performance (131,000 viewers) making this the most-watched postseason ever on NFL Network.


Across all internet-connected devices, including PC’s, tablets, and smartphones, the official digital properties of the National Football League delivered original video programming, the latest news and information, as well as unprecedented access to players, celebrities and musicians. NFL Digital Media’s offerings included NFL Mobile from Verizon which provided fans access to live, streaming video of Super Bowl XLVIII and NFL Network, including exclusive Super Bowl content and commercials.

For Super Bowl week, visits to NFL Digital Media properties increased 24% versus last year, bolstered by a 149% increase in visits to NFL Mobile.

Unique users of NFL Digital Media properties rose 22% during the week versus last year (27.8M vs. 22.8M), driven by 88% growth in NFL Mobile Properties (11.2M vs. 6.0M).

Unique users and visits to NFL Digital Media properties were driven by an array of content around Super Bowl XLVII. The two highest performing long-form NFL Digital Media features were:

Ø Judy Battista’s piece on Super Bowl XLVIII’s impact on Peyton Manning’s legacy

Ø Mike Silver’s story on the Seahawks dominant defense being fueled by the tight bond amongst the ‘Legion of Boom’

Video Streams during Super Bowl week across all NFL Digital Media properties increased 56% versus last year (34.0M vs. 21.8M).

Video consumption to NFL Mobile from Verizon reached 10.3M streams for a 416% increase over last year’s Super Bowl Week.

The highest performing video of the week featured NFL Network analysts making predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII. The video was viewed more than 800k times.

Seen in 195 countries, NFL Game Pass consumption grew 49% year-over-year across all devices and 57% on desktop.

*Super Bowl Week is defined as January 27-February 2, 2014

— end press release —

And yes, we know the Football On Your Phone video was a promo for DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket, which is neither here nor there when it comes to Verizon NFL Mobile numbers. But the video is funny enough to watch again:

Stadium Tech Report: DAS, Wi-Fi puts end to no-signal problem at Denver’s Sports Authority Field

PeytonThese days, Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High is the new home of the NFL’s most prolific signal-caller. With a record season for passing yards and passing touchdowns, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is recognizable for his animated pointing, shouting and line-of-scrimmage audibles, the ultimate practicioner of last-second communication.

Not too long ago, the fans at Mile High might have had to resort to the same tactics to communicate, using hand waving or shouting, since getting a cell signal was next to impossible. “Forget making a phone call, you couldn’t even send a text,” said Rick Seifert, communications manager for the Broncos’ stadium management company. “And it wasn’t just the fans. We [the staff] couldn’t make calls in the stadium to do our jobs.”

But in 2012, the Broncos changed all that with the installation of a full-featured distributed antenna system (DAS) deployed by TE Connectivity, and a fan-facing Wi-Fi network installed by Verizon Wireless.

Russ Trainor

Russ Trainor

The Broncos also put in a huge new digital scoreboard and robust back-end connectivity provided by Comcast as part of their blitz of networking improvements, and this past fall, AT&T joined in by upgrading its connection to the stadium’s DAS. By next year the Broncos hope to add AT&T and Sprint to its roster of Wi-Fi service providers, reflecting what vice president of information technology Russ Trainor sees as a “never ending growth” of wireless in-stadium consumption.

All carriers on board, slowly

One of the biggest problems with DAS deployments in stadiums is convincing major cellular carriers to work together. Since each carrier wants to deploy systems to do the best job for its customers, there is often a difference in opinion on strategy and operations, which is often followed by similar snags in contract negotiations. Trainor said that the stadium, built in 2001, presented unique RF challenges to wireless with its primarily exposed-steel construction. Verizon and Sprint were the first carriers to sign up for the neutral DAS, followed by AT&T this fall.

DAS equipment at Sports Authority Field. Credit: Denver Broncos

DAS equipment at Sports Authority Field. Credit: Denver Broncos

“It was tough to get them [all the major carriers] to agree on DAS, but we have good engineers on the back end and we came up with a nice solution for everybody,” said Trainor. While the antennas and stadium network are neutral, each carrier provides its own back-end gear, much of which at Mile High had to be placed in a building built outside the facility specifically to house telecom gear. In many stadium DAS deployments, the telecom gear can take up thousands of square feet, which can be challenging to find in facilities built before such needs were known.

“There’s no room inside for all the space they [the carriers] wanted,” Seifert said.

The Wi-Fi network, deployed by Verizon, uses Cisco equipment and is also a neutral host infrastructure, meaning that other carriers could use it to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to their clients if they so choose. According to Seifert, AT&T and Sprint will offer Wi-Fi services to customers next season, in part to answer the consistently growing demand. Like in other stadiums, fans at Sports Authority Field know what to do when they finally find bandwidth: Use more.

Steady growth in wireless use

When Sports Authority Field is at its listed capacity of 76,125 on game days, it becomes the 14th-largest city in Colorado, Trainor said. The team has already seen 525,000 downloads of its mobile application, which provides such in-stadium features as four different video replay angles, a connection to the NFL Network’s RedZone channel, and a direct link to the radio feed from hometown sports station KOA. The application is geo-fenced to ensure that the video rights are only used inside the stadium, and to give fans there a unique game-day experience.

Wi-Fi antennas on stadium overhang. Credit: Denver Broncos

Wi-Fi antennas on stadium overhang. Credit: Denver Broncos

According to Trainor, the team usually sees an average of 4,000 simultaneous connections on the Verizon Wi-Fi network on game days, though on colder days when fans need to wear gloves that number can drop in half. Trainor said the Cisco infrastructure is designed to accomodate 25,000 concurrent connections, a number the team hasn’t yet reached. However, the team did have to double the back-end capacity already for the Wi-Fi network, which is being used more as more fans find it.

“Word of mouth really gets [usage] going,” said Trainor, who noted that at a Kenny Chesney concert last year, the stadium crew saw data uploads outpace data downloads for the first time — a sure sign that fans in attendance were using the network to do things like share pictures and videos with their social-network connections.

“We haven’t seen any true bottlenecks yet, but usage is consistently rising, game after game, for concerts, soccer and football,” Trainor said.

Rick Seifert

Rick Seifert

A good sign from the Wi-Fi networking statistics is a shift in usage from the often crowded 2.4 GHz bands to the 5 GHz bands, which Trainor said is likely due to fans using the latest 5 series iPhones, which support the 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency. And no matter what happens to the Broncos in the playoffs, Trainor and Seifert know what they will be doing this summer: Upgrading the network components, in the never-ending battle to provide bandwidth.

“Verizon and Sprint have already made significant upgrades to their DAS deployments because of demand and changes in technology, like LTE,” said Seifert. “And next year we’ll probably see AT&T circle back again. It’s very dynamic.”

“As smart phones get smarter it’s a never-ending challenge” to provide connectivity, Trainor said. “It’s a job that’s never finished.”

Football On Your Phone — Manning Style, Bro

We write a lot about football on your phone — in fact I just did a long, kind of wonky piece earlier this week about the gyrations and gymnastics Verizon and the NFL are going through to justify Verizon’s $1 billion in rights for live football on a cellular phone. Of course there is another way to get football on your phone, and that is to switch your world to satellite and get DirecTV’s pricey Sunday Ticket — which lets you watch every NFL game, any time, on any device… including, yo, your phone.

Do we need a long post about it? No. Just the Mannings, the new TV pitchmen of the century. Take it away, boys.

Football in your pants, yo. I think Mobile Sports Report just jumped the shark.

Boom Goes the Twitter: Manning-to-Denver News Takes Over Monday Morning

Here’s the tweet that started it all: ESPN’s Adam Schefter hit the innerwebs at 8:52 a.m. PT today with a missive that simply said, “From @mortreport and me: Peyton Manning will become the next quarterback of the Denver Broncos, barring unexpected snag in contract talks.”

And then Twitter hell broke loose. Not only was there instant reaction to the apparently successful recruitment by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway in bringing Manning to the Mile High City, but you also had the attendant fallout question of “what now for Tim Tebow,” the one-man twitterstorm who set the league’s social media airwaves aflame last fall when he unexpectedly found success with his unorthodox playing methods.

From @mortreport and me: Peyton Manning will become the next quarterback of the Denver Broncos, barring unexpected snag in contract talks.

As an old comrade of Schefter’s (our paths crossed briefly when I was a sportswriter in Boulder and he was starting his career with the Rocky Mountain News) it’s great to see him toeing the line on “not breaking news on Twitter” — if you’ve noticed lately a lot of his posts start with the wording “Filed to ESPN” at the start. Not the Manning one, though. Better to get the scoop first and worry about the internal politics later, we’re guessing. But see the WWL-correctedness in the follow up tweet:

Either way… a scoop’s a scoop, and this is definitely the biggest one of the NFL offseason. Now we are betting that Jim Harbaugh is on the line to Alex Smith, offering to carry his golf bag at the AT&T pro-am next year. Just guessing.