Social TV and Super Bowl LI: Maximizing audience engagement around sport broadcasts

With the biggest come-back in the history of the Championship, Tom Brady taking his 5th Super Bowl win and a powerful half-time performance from Lady Gaga this year’s Super Bowl LI had all the makings of an incredible live sporting event. And with its real-time, quick nature - the reaction on Twitter around the world was suitably hyped.

Data from our new Kantar Twitter TV Ratings: Sports service shows the USA, Brazil, Mexico, the UK and Canada were the most actively engaged countries on the social media platform, with a huge 10.2 million Tweets originating from the US alone.

The moment that drove the highest spike in activity on Twitter around the world was when running back James White scored the game-winning touchdown for the Patriots in the first ever overtime seen in a Super Bowl, causing a spike of 206,000 Tweets in one minute and 1 million in 5 minutes.

Studying the demographics, the gender breakdown of activity on Twitter globally was slightly skewed towards men, with 58.40% Male vs 41.60% Female. The 21-35 age group was by far the most active, taking a 52% share of the activity, followed by younger fans under the age of 21 with 20.5%. 

This data is particularly interesting for major sporting organizations and rights holders who want to understand audience reactions and engagement with match broadcasts around the world. It provides access to a new layer of audience data that can be used to prove value to sponsors and advertisers, and uncovers new markets with high levels of fan support.

For brands sponsoring or advertising within sport broadcasts, gaining an understanding of how audiences engage with their campaigns around the world is invaluable. The #PepsiHalfTime show during the Super Bowl caused a huge spike in activity with over 300,000 Tweets originating in the US using the sponsor hashtag. Additionally, three of the most re-Tweeted Tweets using the same hashtag originated from the @Pepsi Twitter account, all receiving over 7,000 re-Tweets, increasing brand awareness and helping to maximize their investment.

Understanding social TV engagement also provides a new metric for measuring the success of sponsorship and advertising campaigns. The Kantar Twitter TV Ratings: Sports data provides insight into the emotions evident within Tweets. For example, the top emotion evident in Tweets using the #PepsiHalfTime hashtag in the UK, Brazil and Argentina was admiration. Using the brand affinity data, sponsors and advertisers can also identify the other brands fans have an affinity with, and target those fans better.

Carlos Sanchez, Global Director, Social TV, commented: “As this Kantar Twitter TV Ratings data shows, sporting events have the capacity to connect brands with a huge - and truly international - audience. The way that consumers watch and interact with sports broadcasts is evolving, and social platforms in particular are playing a growing role in how audiences connect with and engage with sports. 

Not only do social channels offer advertisers a means of amplifying broadcast campaigns, but they provide opportunities for a wide range of sporting organizations, media owners and brands to take part in the conversations of a highly engaged audience. For example, by using this data, companies can understand how attitudes to specific broadcast events play out across a huge range of countries, and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly, capitalizing on regional trends to boost engagement. Understanding interactions and reactions on social media is an important part of achieving effective, holistic campaign measurement.”

For a demo of the Kantar Twitter TV Ratings: Sports service, get in touch


For this research we tracked the total number of Tweets about the Super Bowl posted all around the world, during the match window as well as 1 hour prior and 1 hour after. This includes both Unique Tweets and Retweets.

We used Twitter geo-filtering, thanks to our global partnership with Twitter, that allows us to understand very accurately where Twitter authors are tweeting from in the world. I line with this, we also have the ability to provide the total number of Tweets for each of the 30 countries with the highest volume of activity on Twitter.

We used a comprehensive combination of keywords that allowed us to identify and collect Tweets specifically related to the Super Bowl (hashtags, teams, players, etc.).

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