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Monday Morning Quarterbacking

By on February 4th, 2013

Funny thing about events like the Super Bowl in this age of social media. I wasn’t watching the game, but by periodically checking my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I knew pretty much what was happening throughout—including the power outage early in the third quarter. (Jokes about the guy from Buffalo Wild Wings being responsible seemed to be the most oft-made.)

“Power” will likely be the dominant theme of this year’s game, at least for the 2 hours we are talking about it this morning before we move on with our lives and forget about it entirely.

As I said, I did not watch the game nor the commercials (as MST3K’s Frank Conniff tweeted this morning, “I watched the Super Bowl commercials on the Internet, but only for the pop-up ads”) but I was interested in this story on Mother Nature Network about a report that finds that, counterintuitively, power use goes down during the Super Bowl (not counting in the Superdome). Indeed, after last year’s game:

the household energy usage of 91,000 anonymous households in the Western U.S. actually plummeted during the most watched television broadcast of all time, Super Bowl XLVI. At the very least, it was lower — down as much as 5 percent — when compared to a typical Sunday afternoon/evening during the dead of winter.

Why? Part of the explanation they offer is that people do all of their errands and make all of their party preparations before gametime, so by kickoff, all the appliances and other energy-using gadgets are off—save for the TV. (On the West Coast last year, though, energy consumption rose in the pre-game period, while in the East, it did not, which the researchers attribute to nicer-than-usual weather on 2012’s Super Bowl Sunday.)

Another reason for the drop in energy use? The Super Bowl is one of those rare communal events where people gather en masse to watch, so when people go to Super Bowl parties, their own homes are generally dark.

However, as I discovered, while they may not be consuming electrical power at home, they are using their mobile phones to Facebook and tweet. (As a friend of mine posted on Facebook after the power in New Orleans went out, “I just needed to charge my phone. Sorry NOLA.”) It would be interesting to see what power consumption looks like after everyone gets home and plugs their phones back in.