Need proof that the Super Bowl remains an immutable force in a highly mutable cultural landscape? Consider this: U.S. Internet usage dropped 15 percent during the Feb. 3 broadcast of the Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers, according to a report by the blog Sandvine and cited at TheNextWeb.com. When you stop to consider how ubiqtuitous the Internet has become — heck, even your coffee maker is going to need its own Twitter handle soo — it’s astounding that any event can make us drop everything the way the NFL’s showcase does.
But there’s yet more evidence of the Super Bowl’s pervasiveness: Not only did the Big Game command enough attention to make many unglue themselves from their online devices, those who remained connected were enraptured by the spectacle, too. A record 3 million people watched CBS’s live stream of the game over the Internet, eclipsing last year’s online audience by about 50 percent.
Further, Bluefin Labs and Trendrr declared the game the biggest social media events in the history of, well, all of social media. The Super Bowl tallied 30.6 million social-media comments, 2.5 times the amount of activity generated by last year’s game, LostRemote.com reported. “For context, election night — across all the networks — generated 28.3M social media comments. The 2012 Grammy Awards, which was the previous record for a single network event, talled 13.0M comments.”
(Check out LostRemote.com’s story for a cool graphic from Bluefin Labs that provides more detail. I was going to post it here, but I didn’t want to rip it because I suspect doing so might make me less than copyright-compliant.)
This nexus of cultural and technology pheonomena is interesting to observe. Newspapers and other news outlets will try to leverage it into traffic, and that includes The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. For example, we provided this embedded tool from Scribble Live, on which our sister newspaper, The Miami Herald, curated tweets from various McClatchy Company reporters covering some aspect of the Super Bowl.
Similarly, several outlets — and plain, ol’ folks — complied Super Bowl stories on Storify, which is one of my favorite social-media aggregators for storytelling. We used this tool to provide continuous reporting from the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing this past spring because we believed it to be a more flexible alternative to the blog we used the year before. In fact, this sort of aggregation is probably even better suited to events like golf tournaments, which are too long to broadcast start to finish each day. They also are quite useful in bagging up multi-day events, such as the Beaufort Water Festival or news stories that develop over the course of many weeks, such as our work in 2011 covering financial and governance problems with the nonprofit group Strive to Excel.
These tools are transforming our methods of conducting business in ways large and small. And let's be honest: They make for great reading experiences, but many of us adopt them in the interest of self-preservation.
You have to admire an immovable event like the Super Bowl that seems to bend such an irreversible force.