A report from billmonitor.com, a service which helps consumers to find the right mobile phone contract, showed England fans sent over 11 million text messages in the space of a few minutes on Sunday afternoon – those few minutes in which England conceded the third and fourth goals.
When hopes were higher, 2.3 million texts largely expressed outrage after were seeing Frank Lampard’s shot fall comfortably over the goal-line. Although it’s equally possible less compassionate spectators from across north and westerly borders were including LOLs in their messages.
Fans sent 36 million text messages during the course of the game and a further 11 million in the half hour after the match. SMS traffic during the game was the highest for any England game during the World Cup, surpassing the 28 million sent during the Slovenia fixture.
In total, nearly 223 million text messages were sent during the whole of Sunday.
UK network O2 also produced a report based on their users’ data habits over the course of England’s glory-packed group matches. Their subscribers sent over 75,000,000 text messages — an average of 25,000,000 per game. A traffic spike was witnessed after Steven Gerrard’s early strike against the USA, clocking up almost 4,000 messages per second on O2’s network alone.
However, of the group matches, the sharpest spike occurred when the excellent Tottenham Hotspur forward Jermain Defoe scored against Slovenia, with almost 4,800 messages sent per second from O2 devices.
Major communal events cause a high volume of mobile users to communicate with others and share the experience, even if that experience is rather grim.
Twitter has experienced record breaking, football-led traffic spikes too, with a peak of 2,940 tweets per second recorded when Japan scored against Cameroon. However, these rates were only record breaking for a short time after a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics resulted in a new record of 3,085 tweets per second. (And I don’t remember reading a single one).
Despite the sport infused spikes and new tactics such as Sponsored Tweets, effectively monetising the data is still proving to be a challenge.
Not so with SMS. And while other platforms too will have inevitably experienced their own World Cup traffic spikes as distraught fans clamoured to slate Fabio Capello via Facebook and Instant Messenger services, it’s highly unlikely that any platforms will have matched the surge of simple, lowest common denominator: SMS. It’s not sexy but it generates cash and it’s very widely used, so let’s celebrate the mobile data win instead.
Much more satisfying.