To ensure that Super Bowl attendees can smoothly post Facebook status updates, tweets, and send texts during the big game, the NFL plans to block streaming video from NFL.com inside MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Video from Fox Sports, which is also live-streaming Super Bowl XLVIII, will be blocked both over WiFi and on cellular networks. The NFL and wireless carriers have invested heavily to brace MetLife Stadium for the impending influx of data-hungry smartphones, but league executives ultimately decided that streaming video was a gamble not worth taking.
“While we do know that people like to look at replays on their phones and there are some people who like to stream certain amounts of video in the game, the vast majority of our fans want to watch the game on the field, watch the replays on the jumbo board, and participate in the event more than they want to be checking their phone,” said Michelle McKenna-Doyle, the NFL’s chief information officer, in an interview with Ars Technica. “While we could have made some of that available, it might have impacted the ability for the majority of the fans to be able to stay connected to social media, tweet, Facebook, that kind of thing.”
And it’s easy to see why the NFL wants to avoid the risk; McKenna-Doyle said the in-stadium network can support between 25,000 and 30,000 concurrent users; MetLife Stadium seats 82,566. All four major carriers have upgraded their Distributed Antenna Systems to avoid network disruptions; AT&T tells The Verge its new DAS offers “more than triple the capacity” of the infrastructure that was in place during the regular season — it’s the equivalent of 21 traditional cell sites concentrated in one area. And while streaming video won’t be an option for lucky Super Bowl goers, they’ll still be able to hear Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the action with the help of radios provided by the stadium.