Super Bowl XLVII: the tech, the ads, and the blackouts

super bowl xlvii

Nobody does grandiose sporting spectacles quite like the Americans, whose annual Super Bowl extravaganza attracts massive audiences from all over the globe. This year's title tussle isn't short on dramatic storylines — with two brothers in charge of the finalist teams and a legendary linebacker making it his swansong game — but a great many people will still be tuning in primarily to check out the exorbitantly expensive half-time ads. You can track all the fun and frolics of those commercials right here, but that's not all. We've also got insider reports from New Orleans, breaking down the technical challenges of recording, photographing, and broadcasting a game of such magnitude.

20 updates and 1504 comments below.

Feb 08 3:47p

Super Bowl blackout caused by incorrect switch setting, says manufacturer

A half-hour outage during Super Bowl XLVII was the result of an electrical relay with incorrect settings, says the device's manufacturer. Shortly after the outage, power company Entegy reported that "a piece of equipment that's supposed to monitor electrical load malfunctioned, opened a break, and power was cut off," giving us few specifics. Now, CNN has published a statement from S&C Electric Co, which produced the relay. According to S&C, operators set the device to trip far too low: though...

Continue reading »

Feb 05 5:41p

Super Bowl online streaming viewership grows to 3 million in second year

In the second year the Super Bowl has been streamed online, viewership has grown sharply — even if it's still barely a blip compared to traditional TV viewership. According to CBS, its stream of Super Bowl XLVII garnered 3 million unique viewers, compared to the 2.1 million that NBC reported last year. Unsurprisingly, CBS says this is the largest audience the CBS Sports site has ever seen, and it's a significant number for any single streamed event.

The Olympics, one of the biggest live...

Continue reading »

Feb 04 4:51p

Can technology solve the NFL's head injury problem?

If you were one of the viewers who helped make last night’s Super Bowl among the most-watched television events in history, you may not have spent much time worrying about the players’ safety. But if so, the NFL wanted to make sure you knew it shares your concern. As part of a long-running effort, the league ran several ads on the topic, the longest of which recapped a century of safety advances. As SB Nation’s Jon Bois explained, the spot alludes to rule changes from the elimination of...

Continue reading »


How Oreo's rapid-response team lit up Twitter with a Super Bowl blackout ad

The Super Bowl, America's annual celebration of the gridiron game, tends to be the most expensive day on any advertiser's calendar. Or maybe not. Oreo Cookies took a novel approach to its marketing during the big game last night by keeping its advertising team in the office, ready to respond to any unusual events during the match. Such an opportunity arose when the power inside New Orleans' Superdome went out, and the marketing minds quickly set to work on producing a poster ad for their...

Continue reading »


Beyonce, a blackout, and the Ravens: what ruled Twitter, Facebook, and Google during the Super Bowl

There are few things that social networks love more than rounding up the chatter surrounding a big event, and the Super Bowl is certainly no exception. Twitter, Facebook, and Google have pulled together the top searches, tweets, and coversation-starting moments of the "big game," and what's surprising is the variance in trends across different networks. On Twitter, the unexpected power outage generated the highest volume of tweets during the game itself — more than 231,000 tweets per minute...

Continue reading »


CBS interview gives a look into the NFL's control room during the Super Bowl blackout

Unless you've been living under a rock or purposefully avoiding anything to do with last night's Super Bowl, you're likely aware that power went out in half of the Mercedes Benz Superdome just after the start of the third quarter last night. The outage was enough to halt gameplay for over a half an hour while officials triaged and resolved the problem and got the lights back on. It would be fairly safe to assume that the power outage caused a lot of people grief, especially those that are in...

Continue reading »

Feb 03 10:44p

Extended 'Iron Man 3' Super Bowl spot shows dramatic airborne rescue

Marvel Studios may have locked up a product placement deal for Iron Man 3 with China's TCL, but that doesn't mean that the studio is ignoring traditional, all-American promotion. Take the new 30-second Super Bowl spot, for example, where Tony Stark plucks falling passengers out of the sky in the aftermath of an air disaster.

The video below is an extended version which mixes the new footage with some that's been seen previously, as well as an intro where — true to the occasion — Robert...

Continue reading »


AppStore.com short links make public debut in 'Star Trek' Super Bowl trailer

The Star Trek Into Darkness Super Bowl trailer has more going on than just Benedict Cumberbatch — as CNET points out, it features the first example we've seen of a custom Appstore.com short link. Apple enabled this functionality for iOS developers a few days ago, and it allows for a more convenient URL than the previous links. For example, the Star Trek app can be accessed at AppStore.com/StarTrekApp, whereas before it would have had to be h...

Continue reading »


Super Bowl stalls for 35 minutes as Superdome experiences major power outage

Did you feel that? Half the power at the New Orleans Superdome just went out, and the Super Bowl is on hold. The Superdome's energy provider, Entergy New Orleans, says that the issue is "in the customer's side," but it's not clear yet how that will impact recovery. As ESPN reports, police officials said that too much electricity was being sent to the Superdome, causing a surge. Also speaking to police officials, ABC News reports that there's no obvious sign of foul play. The outage lasted for...

Continue reading »


BlackBerry chooses 'swagger' over substance for Super Bowl spot

BlackBerry has just unveiled its Super Bowl ad — arguably the company's first real mainstream debut for BlackBerry 10 following its launch event — but for some reason it's all about what its new Z10 handset "can't" do. (For instance, the BlackBerry Z10 can't turn an out-of-control truck into a pile of rubber duckies.) That's a curious strategy for a company that just rebranded itself last week, and that needs to successfully win back the high-end smartphone market in the US and other regions...

Continue reading »


Super Bowl 'Star Trek Into Darkness' trailer shows off a lot more Cumberbatch

You love Star Trek. You love Benedict Cumberbatch. And you'll love this new teaser for J.J. Abrams' next sci-fi epic, Star Trek Into Darkness. Enjoy.

Continue reading »


How to watch Super Bowl XLVII online

Later today most Americans will be huddled around their televisions, watching the 49ers take on the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. But if for some reason you aren't able to watch it on the big screen, just like last year there are still ways to check out the game online. CBS Sports is offering a free stream of the game from its website, and it comes with a few benefits: including both on-demand commercials and the ability to switch between 22 different camera angles. And if your laptop is out of...

Continue reading »


Inside the daunting job of a Super Bowl photographer

Peter Read Miller's been to so many Super Bowls that he can't even remember exactly how many. "I think this is 38," the long-time Sports Illustrated staff photographer told me. "I said 34 the other day, and then I re-counted for someone else who was asking, and I think this is 38." 38 Super Bowl Sundays he's spent crouched in the end zone or running down the sidelines, shooting everyone from Larry Csonka to Eli Manning with dozens of different cameras in countless different situations. He's...

Continue reading »


Watch all of the Super Bowl ads right here

Whether you're a die-hard fan or aren't even sure which teams will be playing on Sunday (Google tells me it's the Ravens and the 49ers, who I understand both play football), Super Bowl commercials are an integral part of both the game and American culture. The Super Bowl is perhaps the only time of the year when advertising is elevated en masse to popular entertainment, and while sports in general have proved a sticking point for streaming TV, the commercials themselves can be found right...

Continue reading »


Nate Silver uses numbers to predict the Super Bowl

Statistician Nate Silver knows numbers, and in a piece in the New York Times he's decided to put that skill to excellent use — predicting the Super Bowl. Historically it's great defensive teams that have a better record in the big game, but in the case of this year's Super Bowl the San Francisco 49ers happen to be statistically better than the Baltimore Ravens on both sides of the ball. "There isn't much to recommend the Ravens," Silver writes, though he points out that Baltimore is superior...

Continue reading »


Samsung's $15 million Super Bowl commercial arrives early

Samsung just released its two minute Super Bowl commercial set to air during the fourth quarter of Sunday's big game. The full ad continues with the same rapid-fire Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd repartee that we saw in the teaser a few days ago. According to Samsung, the 120-second Next Big Thing advertisement is directed by Jon Favreau, the stoutly actor who first found fame with Swingers before breaking out as a director and producer for the Iron Man franchise. Factor in Bob Odenkirk and that's...

Continue reading »


The Super Bowl will be beamed to astronauts on board the ISS

As you sit down to watch the Super Bowl with your family and friends, take a moment to think of those doing more or less the same thing hundreds of miles above the Earth's surface. NASA has confirmed to Space.com that the six astronauts currently on board the International Space Station will indeed get to watch the game; Mission Control made a point of asking the crew on Friday if they wanted it broadcast to them. It's not an unusual event for the astronauts — they were able to watch the...

Continue reading »

Feb 02 10:30a

At the Super Bowl, 4K might literally be a game-changer

Last year, in the most important moment of the most important game of his career, Kyle Williams screwed up. The San Francisco 49ers' punt returner came up to try and field a short kick from New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford, but at the last minute decided not to even try. He backed off, but the football bounced haphazardly in his direction anyway. It grazed his right knee, and became a live fumble; the Giants recovered it, and quickly scored a touchdown. The Giants, of course, won the...

Continue reading »

Jan 31 8:36p

Samsung's new commercial spoofs the Super Bowl with the help of Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen

Last year Samsung took a shot at Apple with a Super Bowl ad for the Galaxy Note, and now the company has debuted a new spot that riffs on the licensing restrictions of the big game itself. In the commercial, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd play two writers pitching ideas for a Samsung Super Bowl commercial — to Mr. Show and Breaking Bad's Bob Odenkirk, no less. The joke is that every single time the pair try to mention the Super Bowl itself — or any of the team names — Odenkirk has to cut them off...

Continue reading »

Sep 19 4:55p

New Orleans officials planned to police the Super Bowl with a Homeland Security drone

The ethics of domestic drone use may not be sorted out, but police and other officials aren't waiting around to deploy them in the field — and there are few fields more mainstream than the one at the Super Bowl. According to a report from The Lens, New Orleans city officials wanted to use a US Department of Homeland Security drone to monitor crowds at Super Bowl XLVII in February, but canceled the plans recently for unspecified reasons. A city spokesperson told The Lens that it will instead...

Continue reading »

The Verge
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.