How the Super Bowl Changes Mobile App Use: Prep Now for February 5

And the magic pull of halftime

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Every year, over a hundred million people tune in to the Super Bowl. And many of them have their smartphones in hand, actively using their apps during the game.

How can mobile marketers best prepare for this activity?

Appboy data shows that certain types of apps, such as food + beverage, gaming, travel + transportation, and social + messaging apps, see significant differences in use on Super Bowl Sunday than on other Sundays. Second-screen activity, such as ordering food during the game, hailing a ride home, and discussing the outcome with friends, are all markedly affected by this event.

Here’s what brands need to know to prepare for the increases (and decreases) in hour-by-hour app use on the big night.

U.S. app use plummets during the halftime show

The most notable trend is the decrease in app use during the halftime show.

But to start at the beginning, when the game kicks off, the data shows that eyes are on the TV. Across all types of apps, Super Bowl Sunday sees a lower than average number of people on their mobile apps at 6 p.m. ET, compared to other Sundays. Apps can expect increasing activity throughout the game with an obvious huge shift of attention to the halftime show—as many as 23% fewer users during that time.

super bowl day app use super bowl game app use

Food + beverage apps see huge increase in use before and during the game

The data for food + beverage apps shows a very obvious change in behavior from a regular old Sunday. Huge activity increases leading up to game time suggest that game watchers are ordering food for delivery before and during the game, at a rate that’s up to 135% higher during the 6–7 p.m. ET time block than other Sundays.

super bowl day food & beverage app use super bowl game food & beverage app use

Gaming apps see less use at the beginning of the match and during halftime

When the big game starts, the handheld games see less action. Mobile gaming use is less in the first hours of the Super Bowl than it is on other Sundays. As the show continues, mobile games ramp back up to normal use, which could indicate that viewers are multitasking, or that people less interested in the Super Bowl (but hanging out with friends at a viewing party anyway) put their phones away during the beginning of the game and then pull them back out later, potentially as they lose interest. Like all other app types, gaming apps are used less during halftime.

super bowl day gaming app use super bowl gaming app use

Travel + transportation apps are on deck for rides

The considerable increase in use of travel apps before and after the game suggests that viewers book rides to and from their Super Bowl-viewing destinations.

super bowl day travel app use super bowl game travel app use

Social messaging continues further into the night than on other Sundays

The use of social media + messaging apps on Super Bowl Sunday begins similarly to a regular Sunday—until the overall slump during halftime, and then things get interesting. App users chat and message longer into the night than usual, indicating that Super Bowl viewers are discussing the game (and maybe that halftime show that caught everyone’s attention, too).

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Education apps see a slow day overall

Learning languages and other educational activities take a back seat on game day. Overall app use for educational apps are lower on Super Bowl Sunday compared to other Sundays.

super bowl day education app use super bowl game education app use

Worldwide data highlights U.S. trends

The Super Bowl is, unsurprisingly, a U.S.-centric affair. When U.S. app use data is compared to worldwide data for food + beverage and travel + transportation apps, for example, the activity difference in the U.S. is abundantly clear.

super bowl food app use us vs worldwide super bowl travel app use us vs worldwide


Appboy analyzed the minute-by-minute activity from over 160 million users across more than 150 apps on Super Bowl Sunday 2016. To establish a baseline, activity on the same set of apps during the prior five Sundays was averaged. Data points represent the number of users who opened the app during that minute interval. The sample size is 1.6 billion events.

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