Super Bowl 50 had plenty of storylines worth discussing, from Peyton Manning’s potential final game to various refereeing controversies to Cam Newton’s mere existence.
But despite all that, both Twitter and Facebook reported dramatic drops in chatter about the game as compared to during last year’s contest, according to Re/code.
Facebook reported that 60 million people created some 200 million posts, comments and “likes” throughout the game. Those numbers are down from last year, when 65 million people generated 265 million posts, comments and likes. That’s about 25 percent less activity for those keeping score.
Twitter had it even worse. Much worse, in fact. Roughly 3.8 million people created 16.9 million tweets during the game, according to Nielsen. That’s down from 28.4 million tweets sent during last year’s game, which Twitter self-reported, a drop of more than 40 percent. In fact, Twitter didn’t even share its total tweet metrics this year. The company also didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment on Nielsen’s numbers.
That drop in tweets is particularly jarring. in terms of degree and also in context of the general narrative about Twitter has taken hold in recent weeks. The platform is having trouble on Wall Street, where shares are at an all time low and in the boardroom and at headquarters, where several high-ranking executives departed last month. Reports that Twitter would soon switch to an algorithmic timeline prompted a hashtag #RIPTwitter last week.
Though none of this necessarily had an impact on the decrease in tweets during this year’s Super Bowl, Sunday provided another disappointing day for a company in crisis.
Of course, the fact that Super Bowl 50 was pretty boring didn’t help anything, but it’s not like viewership dropped by 40%, so there’s not much reason Twitter activity should. As Re/code points out, both Twitter and Facebook have recently rolled out features that should help traffic during big games.
Yes, a lousy game doesn’t help. But a dip like this is not a great sign for either platform, both of which offered new features this year intended to increase engagement for a game just like this. On Twitter, that feature is Moments, a curated stream of tweets around a particular event. On Facebook, it’s Sports Stadium, a new area of the app dedicated to following live sporting events and talking with your friends about them. (The new feature had some technical difficulties Sunday afternoon.)
The social media market changes every day, so by next year Twitter could be back to dominating the live-analysis space with Facebook right there next to it, but for now both companies need to reevaluate in the wake of Sunday’s letdown.