Super Bowl XLIX drives technological innovation and data demand

January 27, 2015

Football, not surprisingly, has been the proving grounds for technology innovations like Bluetooth-enabled beacons and 4K video replay. At Super Bowl XLVIII, for example, the official NFL Mobile app drew upon stationary wireless transmitters set up around MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to send contextual advertisements and alerts via iBeacon to smartphone users at the venue. This system opened up a direct communications channel between the NFL and its fans, using remote data center operations as well as on-site IT infrastructure.

What’s in store for Super Bowl XLIX?

Super Bowl XLIX: A new spin on the halftime show, plus in-stadium upgrades for wireless data

Much of the technology at this year's Super Bowl is designed to deliver massive amounts of data straight to consumers. Infrastructure both within and outside the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the site of this year's tilt between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, is being upgraded to support streaming video and easier access to wireless Internet service.

Video streaming

Over the past decade, YouTube has become a viable alternative to both traditional TV and music services. On February 1, 2015, YouTube will host its first ever live Super Bowl halftime show, featuring YouTube stars like Harley Morenstein of “EpicMealTime” and Freddie Wong performing everything from stunts to fake Super Bowl ads.

The audience could be massive, despite the fact that YouTube will be on air at the same time as the usual Super Bowl halftime festivities. According to YouTube’s published figures, the service reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network, plus it accumulates about 6 billion video hours of views each month and adds 100 hours of video every minute.

Not to be outdone, NBC, which is going to be live streaming Super Bowl XLIX, has gone all-in on video streaming, offering the content for free online and with the NBC Sports Live Extra app. The network seems to have realized that reaching as many viewers as possible is worth the associated infrastructure and delivery costs.

This year’s online coverage will be the first time that NBC will be including pre-game analysis and the halftime show in its live stream; it previously broadcasted just the game itself.

Wireless data

Mobile was prominent at the 2014 Super Bowl; the NFL’s innovative beacon initiative allowed smartphone users to get real-time information such as wait times at concession stands. This year, the University of Phoenix Stadium will provide the robust networking infrastructure and connectivity to support fans who want to view the game or engage with other fans on their mobile devices.

The University of Phoenix Stadium, which is the home of the Arizona Cardinals, is one of the most technologically advanced facilities in the NFL, according to the stadium’s vice president of stadium operations, John Drum. Its recently upgraded networks provide secure wireless throughout the stands and concourses. There is also a distributed antenna system that boosts cellular coverage, meaning that fans should have plenty of coverage and capacity for sharing photos, videos and other status updates during the game.

With strong wireless infrastructure all around them, and remote data center operations simultaneously supporting Facebook, Twitter and other services, fans should have a more seamless experience than ever in keeping their friends and family updated and accessing timely content during the Super Bowl.

Given the amount of video in play and current usage trends, the amount of data that Super Bowl fans may use could be massive. AT&T reported that, between cellular and Wi-Fi, more than 6 terabytes were consumed at the January 2015 college football national championship, more than double the traffic consumed during a regular season game[8].

You can expect this year's Super Bowl to rack up similar increases in data demand. And #GoHawks.

Jeff Baumgarten, VP Inside Sales (@jb_tricendent)

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