Super Bowl LI proved to be one for the records books and unsurprisingly the team at Localytics HQ in Boston is very excited about the outcome. And a little exhausted. But mostly excited.

Of course the big game couldn’t go by without us taking a look at how the night played out in terms of mobile behavior and mobile usage, particularly between the competing regions (New England vs Georgia). We found that mobile activity closely resembled the roller coaster that was Super Bowl LI.

A Tale of Two Cities

As the Super Bowl picked up steam so too did the activity on mobile. During game time, which we measured as 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, the trend in app usage largely matched the momentum in the game.


At the start of the game, our data shows that there were 37% more New England users on mobile devices than in Georgia. As the first half of the game unfolded, New England mobile users began to decline, eventually matching up with Atlanta’s total users around 7 p.m. That’s when the tide started to shift. From 7 p.m. onwards, users in Atlanta flocked to their mobile devices as users in New England abandoned theirs. Atlanta users averaged 29% more users from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., the most crucial period of the game. At 10 p.m., Atlanta had a whopping 44% more mobile users than New England. We can only assume that a lot of Falcons fans were using mobile as a distraction from the collapse their team was facing.

As the Patriots began their miraculous comeback, fans seemed to be more tuned in to their TVs as opposed to checking their mobile devices as active users were on a decline until the end of the game at 11 p.m. Once Patriots fans could open their eyes again they were quick to jump back on their devices to celebrate, while Falcons fans began a decline in mobile users at 11 p.m. as they could not continue to hear about the epic breakdown any longer.

Clearly mobile usage during a major sporting event like the Super Bowl rides the same emotional waves as the game. Fans use their devices to socialize (nicely and not so nicely) with other fans or even distract themselves from the hoopla when it becomes too much.

No Surprise: Food & Drink Apps Have a Big Night

In addition to geographic differences, our data also shows interesting behavior across app vertical categories:

  • Food & Drink apps showed their highest lift in average sessions at 5 p.m. with a 27% lift compared to the average of the previous five Sundays at that same time. As the game was closing in, many users were finalizing their delivery orders to make sure they would have food in time for the big game. Interestingly, we also saw Food & Drink apps peak again around 9 p.m. with a 23% lift. Clearly the stress of the game had people reaching for more snacks and drinks to get through it.
  • Social apps showed their highest lift in average sessions at 7 p.m. with an 8% lift compared to the average of the previous five Sundays at that same time.
  • Entertainment apps showed their highest lift in average sessions at 8 p.m. with a 6% lift compared to the average of the previous five Sundays at that same time. This was right about the time Lady Gaga took the stage and many were excited to share their thoughts on her performance.


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 analysis, we standardized time zones and measured based on Eastern Standard Time. The geographic analysis was based on users who had at least one sessions during the game time and has geographic information enabled on their device. We found the amount of users at each hour and measured the relative lift. For the category analysis, we measured the average sessions had by each category at every hour of the day for Sunday Jan 1st, Sunday Jan 8th, Sunday Jan 15th, Sunday Jan 22nd, and Sunday Jan 29th. We then measured the relative lift at each time period for Super Bowl Sunday compared to the overall average of the previous five Sundays. Data is based on US.