Blog / Super Bowl Spreads — Whose Line Is It Anyway? Topics  

Super Bowl Spreads — Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Las Vegas seems to be loving the Panthers. Following a fairytale season blemished with just one loss, Cam Newton and his team are reaping the majority of wagers from the many who anticipate yet another Panthers’ victory in Super Bowl 50.

The Westgate SuperBook famously opened with the Panthers as 4-point favorites over the Broncos. Since then, the Panthers have grown into 5.5-point favorites – a number that is prone to change, as we’re all too aware.

Westgate updated

While watching the spreads, our team wanted to know if there was a better way to predict the rise and fall of the betting lines, especially since advanced analytics is becoming more and more a part of sports betting. And after discovering that 47 MILLION people bet on the Super Bowl (that’s nearly 3x the number of people who attended every NFL game this season, according to the American Gaming Association), we couldn’t help but dig deeper.

To no one’s surprise, we “Zoomphed out” and used our platform to find a relationship between a team’s social media activity and Las Vegas line movements.

Our Theory?

The more that people are talking about a team on social media, the more that people are placing bets on that team. This should then forecast spread movement against that team up until a certain point, since bookies are less interested in exploiting their actual predictions for the game’s outcome, and more interested in finding the “sweet spot” of greatest profitability. 

Our Methodology

To test this theory, we created a consistent tracking methodology in which we listened for mentions of each team as “keywords” in Twitter conversations, or as direct mentions of their Twitter handles.

We then compared daily social media data against a 28-day benchmark average, which was calculated from the 28 days before and through the conference championships (Dec. 28 – Jan.24) for each team. Every day afterwards, we pulled in data from 12:00 AM one day to 11:59 PM the same day.

The final step was to compare each team’s performance against the other’s. We looked closely at total social activity for precise measurement of the volume of chatter about each team. Other KPIs, such as ZPoints™, corroborated our findings — but for simplicity’s sake, we decided to focus on this single KPI here.

The following formula gave us a better side-by-side comparison of the teams’ performances:

Team 1’s percentage change – Team 2’s percentage change


[(Panthers daily – Panthers benchmark)/Panthers benchmark] – [(Broncos daily – Broncos benchmark)/Broncos benchmark]


1. On Jan. 25th, Panthers had 30% more overall activity. Westgate line went up .5.

2. On Jan. 27th, Panthers had 9% more activity. Westgate line moved up 0.5 twice for a total of + 1 point.

3. On all days except for one two, the Panthers had overall higher total activity than the Broncos; in aggregate, Panthers generated much more social activity around their team.

4. The line has stabilized as the difference between Panthers and Broncos percentage changes has started to lessen, and the bookies seemed to have reached a comfortable point whereby they’re profiting from both sides.**

updated Super Bowl Chart

As mentioned in our blog about the Iowa caucus, there are many other metrics that we could add here to help refine and hone accuracy. But after tracking just two of our most objective metrics, our team has indeed found a correlation between social media activity and line movements.

Specifically—there appears to be a positive correlation between activity around the Panthers and line movement.

We expect to see much more activity in both the betting and social media realms as game day draws closer. We in no way encourage you to bet based on our early hypothesis, but it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

You can bet that we’ll be nerding out as the Super Bowl is nearing and will be the first to get online if another development arises. Stay tuned. live long


* UPDATE (2/2/2016 at 3:26 p.m.):

Within the same hour of publishing this blog, the Westgate line moved up another .5 points. Charts will be updated after we are able to pull in 24 hours worth of data and accurately compare new numbers against existing ones. 

** UPDATE (2/3/2016 at 10:00 a.m.): 

The above images have been updated to reflect any changes from yesterday. New data seems to support our theory, though the difference between the teams’ social media performances is very minimal (<1% when comparing original numbers that are not rounded off).

*** UPDATE (2/4/2016 at 10:40 a.m.):

As per new data collected yesterday, the line has reverted to 5.5 — back to what it was when this blog was first published. Note that the Panthers’ overall activity increased by 1% from the previous day, whereas the Broncos’ activity dropped by 5%. This leaves us questioning if the bookies brought the line down to compensate for a growing gap, which was influenced by the different trajectories in overall chatter/social activity (up for Panthers, down for Broncos) around each team.

**** UPDATE (2/5/2016 at 11:15 a.m.):

Updated data support the theory that the Panthers have a greater impact on upward line movements; unless the Panthers’ experience a notable increase in social activity, the line does not move up. 

WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 728 [name] => Social Media Monitoring Resources [slug] => social-media-monitoring-resources [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 729 [taxonomy] => capabilities [description] => A collection of advice on how social monitoring can help you spot trends and keep tabs on your competition. [parent] => 0 [count] => 54 [filter] => raw )
Monitoring & Tracking
WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 733 [name] => Social Media News and Trends [slug] => social-media-news-trends [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 734 [taxonomy] => updates [description] => Get the scoop on social news and trends, plus expert analyses, advice, and hacks for joining the most important conversations. [parent] => 0 [count] => 150 [filter] => raw )
News & Trends

Subscribe to Zoomph's Newsletter

NEW Contest, Giveaway & Survey Templates with Integrated Audience Analytics

January 26, 2018

Editor's note: This post was originally published on December 18, 2017 and has been updated to include mention of our new survey and questionnaire templates, which also include integrated audience analytics. If you’ve run a… Read More

Why Facebook’s Move Towards Personalization is a Good Step for All of Us

January 18, 2018

In recent weeks, Facebook’s algorithm change has warranted the publication of countless survival guides meant to comfort the brooding brand or publisher. If you haven’t heard, Facebook officially decided to kill organic post reach for… Read More

6 Traits You Should Know About Your Digital Consumers

January 16, 2018

There's an abundance of data on your consumers online. And while we're often told that the more data the better, it can be difficult to understand what to prioritize or track about your consumer when… Read More

Zoomph’s Year of Innovation

December 22, 2017

Twenty-seventeen was a year to remember. The Zoomph platform grew beyond our imagination, and we owe it to you, our loyal support base who continues to be the inspiration behind our innovation. As we're ringing… Read More

All Posts