Some people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, some for the football, and some for the halftime show. Regardless of intent, it’s clear that the Super Bowl LII halftime inspired viewers to pull out their phones and swipe right.

However, here at Localytics, we were too busy diving into the data on the game to even glance at our devices. If facts could speak, our world-class mobile data offered up enough stories to talk your ear off, but we decided to condense them here for your reading pleasure.

Justin Timberlake’s moves motivate the mobile crowd as time in app peaks during halftime

We are always interested to understand the ebb and flow of mobile usage throughout the evening of the Super Bowl.

This year, we used “Time in App” as a proxy to understand when people were the most and least engaged with their devices. Time In App measures the length of time an average app was used in each hour period. It is measured by multiplying the number of times an app was launched by the average time it was used (session length).

Not too surprisingly, we saw mobile usage peak at 9.61 minutes during Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance, while the lowest engagement came toward the end of the game when people were likely glued to their big screens to see the final moments of a very close game.

Time in app peaks at halftime for super bowl lii

At approximately 6:30 PM EST pop artist Pink took the stage and launched into a rousing National Anthem. Audiences were just warming up at this point, showing moderate interest in their devices and averaging 9 minutes total time in app from 6:00 to 7:00.

After kickoff, Time in App dropped to 8.64 minutes, then peaked during Timberlake’s performance from 8:15 to 8:35. When the game started up again (from 9:00 to 10:00), people turned their focus to the action on the big screen. Notably, Time in App increased by 4% at this point versus where it was before halftime.

From 10:00 to 11:00, with the Eagles’ triumph established, fans returned to sharing reactions, checking stats, and revisiting great moments before calling it a night.

Sports, news, and social networking apps for the win

When it comes to type of mobile activity, the almighty social networking and prodigious sports apps dominated fans’ attention during Super Bowl LII. On the other hand, News apps offered a different flavor of live updates, including commentary and details on events.

During the game, users launched Social Networking apps on average 4.58 times, Sports apps 3.49 times, and News apps 2.31 times.

TopAppCategoriesLaunched_SuperBowl52 (1).png

Social Networking is the primary way users share their thoughts and stay connected with friends and family during sports games. These apps are also often the closest thing to a live stream that fans can get.

Meanwhile, users can track their favorite teams, access player statistics, and watch highlights while exploring apps in the Sports category. (Sports apps saw an 11% lift in app launches compared to the average of the previous five Sundays from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM.)

Although News apps were not as visibly popular as the other two app categories, they saw a 13% lift in launches compared to the average of previous Sundays. It is likely that fans were streaming the competition from the comfort of the palms of their hands, checking for updates, and reading about Philadelphia’s post-bowl antics.

Patriots fans more focused on the big screen than Eagles fans

Philadelphia managed to edge out New England for the Super Bowl title, but only our data can show whether the Eagles truly defeated the Patriots in a mobile-to-mobile showdown.

To determine the score, we examined launches per user and average session length (the amount of time an app was used) for both regions. Side by side there was not much of a disparity between the two areas. Users from both states launched nearly the same number of apps during the Super Bowl, but sessions in the Keystone state topped New England’s by barely 5%.

Mobile usage across regions during super bowl lii

In past posts we have found clear mobile winners on either team, but victory was not so cut and dry this time around, perhaps indicating the uniqueness and intensity of this particular Super Bowl. In fact, while the Eagles dominated for much of the game, the Patriots came back for a one point lead in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 33-32. Patriots fans held their breath, crossing their fingers for a famous comeback.

Alas, the fate of our beloved team (Localytics is Boston-based) was determined by one referee call ruling Zach Ertz a runner and allowing the Eagles to pull ahead with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia may have snatched our victory this year, but the Patriots will be back.

They always are.


Localytics is the leading mobile engagement platform across more than 2.7 billion devices and 37,000 mobile and web apps. Localytics processes 120 billion data points monthly. For this study, Localytics multiplied the average sessions per user in app by the average session length across all apps to get to a Time in App measurement, and then broke it by hour and then category. For the breakdown by hour, we looked at the Time in App from 6:00 to 11:00 because the game started approximately at 6:30 PM and ended shortly after 10:00 PM. The hours are based on eastern standard time.