It’s official—the Denver Broncos have won the Big Game 2016, and yesterday’s victory left Levi’s Stadium decked out in orange and navy. But we were left wondering: What about the virtual playing field? For this celebratory 50th anniversary of the Big Game, Red Door’s experts took a look at the event through the digital lenses of analytics, SEO, tech, and social media to determine who won the match-up from a media perspective. Read on to see if the Denver Broncos have come out on top from a digital outlook in addition to the actual Big Game event.
As fast-paced football fans expect large amounts of content (videos, images, articles, etc.) to be delivered to them with minimal delay, we wanted to determine the tech winner based on the teams’ “page load” times. Many factors influence a web page’s load time, such as whether or not the website compresses its code, or whether or not it utilizes browser caching. These techniques, among others, aim to reduce the number and size of network requests sent to fetch all of a web page’s resources/content, effectively allowing the page to load and render faster.
Throughout the four quarters of the Big Game, the Broncos homepage was much larger in size (26.2 MB) when compared to the Panthers homepage (3.175 MB), while both teams’ mobile homepages were neck-and-neck at 5.925 MB and 6.025 MB, respectively. After review, the Broncos were able to edge out the Panthers on both desktop and mobile versions of their homepage with regard to page load time. The Broncos homepage loaded within 2.83 seconds on average (4.7025 seconds for mobile) while the Panthers homepage load time trailed at 2.9125 seconds on average (5.3825 seconds for mobile).
Which competitor generated the most team-related search interest? Utilizing Google’s Trends tool
to extract relative search volume based on the popularity of a particular search topic, we were able to measure and gauge the most popular team throughout the course of the game. Even though Denver was winning the on-field score, the digital score for the first two and a half quarters was controlled by the Carolina Panthers with 6.48% more searches than the Broncos. The Panthers’ lead lasted through the third quarter until the 8:18 minute mark, at which point the Broncos finally bucked them off of their lead when kicker Brandon McManus hit a 30-yard field goal to make the game 17-6, a two-score game. The Broncos’ search interest flooded in from that point on as they ended up walloping the Panthers with more than 24% of the total search interest throughout the game.
Social Media Content Winner: Panthers
Despite not pulling ahead in the Big Game, the Panthers dominated social media - at least in terms of content posted by the teams themselves. By including both owned imagery and .gifs, focusing on the game and players, and interacting more with fans than the Broncos, the Panthers were rewarded with increased engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on game day.
On both sides of the football, simple posts that created excitement, allowed fans to easily understand the message, and share with their own audience performed best across all channels. With the rise of video, both teams made use of short clips and repeating .gifs to engage the audience. While Denver included pop-culture .gifs and images, the audience preferred the team-specific content that was produced by Carolina.
While play-by-play content fell somewhat flat for Carolina (I mean, it makes sense – we were all watching the game already, we don’t really need someone to tell us what was happening!), who posted substantially more due to this tactic, posts that highlighted popular team members scored big for both teams.
All-in-all, it’s clear that football fans expect to see content that is directly related to the game they are watching. They are looking for posts that mirror the excitement they are feeling at the time so that they are enticed to engage and share. Teams – and brands who are interested in engaging this audience – should be able to quickly produce content that capitalizes on the excitement of plays and big upsets, which are the times when fans turn to social to express their shared successes with their team.
Social Media Conversation Winner: Broncos
Looking back at the content posted on Sunday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (prime time game time!) about the two teams, we’ve determined that yesterday’s Big Game underdog was also today’s big winner in terms of social conversation volume. The Broncos had an estimated number of 5,342,400 posts written about them in the given time frame as opposed to the Panthers, who trailed with an estimated 4,467,400.
Both teams were virtually neck-and-neck in the hours leading up to the Big Game. Data from our sample shows that the Broncos barely snagged a win over the Panthers in the pre-game with 3% more positive posts from the online audience at-large. From a game-time perspective, between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., the Panthers had a slim lead over the Broncos by 2% in post volume. However, this all changed when the final whistle blew. Between 7:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m., post volume for the Broncos made up 70% of the combined posts for both teams. Unfortunately for Cam Newton and his team, disenchanted Panthers fans, boastful Broncos fans, and critics came out firing after the game. There were nearly two times the amount of negative posts for the Panthers as there were positive posts. In total, the Broncos blew the Panthers out of the water with 16% more positive posts, many of which came after Peyton walked off the field as a two-time Big Game Champion.
So, the Denver Broncos took home the official trophy on Sunday, and we're also crowning them the virtual 2016 Big Game champions—at least according to our digital scoreboard!
Which of the two teams’ digital footprints do you think “won” online? Leave a comment below so our experts can chat with you.