Super Bowl LI was one of the most watched Super Bowl games of all time and attracted millions of social media posts but less than recent games.
*Update 2-8-17 3:25 PM ET by Keith Nelson Jr: Added additional information on how Nielsen and Facebook count social media activity for Super Bowl LI and Facebook’s differing numbers regarding Super Bowl LI*
Last night, Lady Gaga danced around with drones overhead, and Tom Brady cemented himself as the greatest quarterback ever, making history. Yet less people showed interest in Super Bowl LI on Facebook and Twitter than they had the two previous years.
For last night’s contest between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, 44.833 million people on Facebook sent 175 million interactions, according to data released by Nielsen Social. Those totals are down from the 60 million people who had 200 million interactions on Facebook for last year’s Super Bowl matchup. And both of those games were dwarfed by the record-breaking Super Bowl 49, which attracted 65 million people on Facebook who had 265 million interactions.
The discrepancy could have to do with the way Nielsen and Facebook tracks activity surrounding TV events. Nielsen launched Social Content Ratings last August and track activity only in the U.S. and not just from owned pages such as the NFL’s page. Facebook, who provided the social media data for the previous two Super Bowls, tracks activity across the globe and includes owned pages. Facebook’s data about Super Bowl LI states 64 million people sending 240 million interactions, more than Super Bowl 50.
Tom Brady’s fifth Super Bowl win fared a bit better on Twitter. Super Bowl LI attracted 3.432 million people who either composed and/or engaged with a Super Bowl-related tweet. There were also 27.6 million tweets using the Super Bowl LI hashtag, up from Super Bowl 50’s 27 million hashtag-related tweets.
Until this year, no one had ever seen a Super Bowl go into overtime and yet the extra time in Super Bowl LI did not translate in the viewership numbers. Super Bowl LI had an average audience of 111.3 million people, down slightly from Super Bowl 50’s 111.9 million. Super Bowl LI did have an average streaming audience of 1.7 million, ahead of last year’s 1.4 million average streaming audience, and more than twice the 800,000 people NBC’s stream of Super Bowl 49 averaged. But those streaming number might have been even higher if Fox’s streaming options hadn’t crashed during the game.
The Super Bowl’s underwhelming viewership and social media activity cap an NFL season that saw declines in regular season and playoff TV ratings compared to the last two years.