Tampa Bay Lightning fans blast social media at home opener

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Tampa Bay Lightning fans are blowing up social media this year during home games. According to AT&T media relations, there was more than 62GB of data used during the first home game of the season last Thursday where Tampa Bay bested the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime. That’s equivalent to more than 177,000 social media posts with photos. The data reflects a nearly 40% increase in data usage over last year’s home opener.

AT&T looked at data at home openers where the company has a venue-specific cellular Distributed Antenna System. While impressive, Tampa Bay fans weren’t more active than other venues across the country.

The highest game total for mobile data usage was in Chicago with more than 154GB of data used during the first home game in 2014. This is equivalent to more than 440K social media posts with photos. Miami fans used more than 95GB of data translating to more than 271,000 social media posts with photos. The greatest increase in mobile data usage was in Denver, where where fans used 302% more data than the first home game last year.

Overall, mobile data usage across the country is up more than 76% when comparing the total data usage during the first home games in 2014 and the total data used during the first home games in 2013.

Does that mean more fans are paying attention? Probably not. One, everyone uses social media and smart phones more and more with each passing day and every newly released gadget. Two, people rampantly post photos of babies, cats, food, interestingly shaped trees – you name it. Go to any noteworthy public event, being it a professional sports game or a Gay Pride parade and more people are likely to be looking down at their phones tweeting and Facebooking their little tech savvy hearts out than watching what’s going on.

But, there could be something to the influx in social media usage during games. Attendance for the Lightning seems to be up compared to last year. The season-wide attendance average last season was 18,612. So far this year, that number is up just slightly to 18,677 according to hockeydb.com.

With the season just beginning, all those tweets, Facebook posts and Instagrams flying out into cyberspace could spell motivation for non-game watchers to get off the couch and into the arena.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.