Never wait on your overpriced stadium beer again.
Thanks to a new app developed by the team at soon-to-open Levi’s Stadium, 49ers fans will never have to worry about missing half the game in the name of a beer buzz.
A new app will soon revolutionize beer drinking at the 2016 home of the Super Bowl, according to Bleacher Report. To find a beer faster than you can say "touchdown," simply tune into the stadium’s new super-fast wifi and the app will tell them which spot in the stadium is the best to purchase a frothy libation.
The innovation is just a drop in the bucket of many that will come with the new stadium that opens next season, according to Extra Mustard. In addition to the app and super speedy wifi, the stadium will also sport 13,000 square feet of video board and increased mobile connectivity. These innovations have caught the attention of many sports analysts, including Yahoo Sports’ Rand Getlin, according to Bleacher Report.“Technology in the 49ers new stadium is amazing,” he wrote on Twitter. “Will have an app that allows you to find the shortest beer lines. Mind blown.”
Now, if they could only make the beer cheaper...
49ers crush outmanned Vikings 27-10 in playoff ‘debacle’
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, right, is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Richie James Jr. (13) tries to fend off a tackle by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, left, during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, right, catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) runs after intercepting a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead, left, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) react to a play against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward (20) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches a touchdown pass in front of San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, center, is tackled by Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith, right, and other defenders during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward (20) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) catches a pass against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, center, during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Minnesota Vikings' Marcus Sherels (35) bobbles a punt return as San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, right, moves in to make the recovery during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) intercepts a pass in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) runs in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen as 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (55) looks on after Sherman intercepted a pass during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco 49ers' Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There was no big upset this time, just an upsetting loss.
The Vikings had hoped to dial the clock back to the 1987 season, when they stunned San Francisco on the road in a divisional playoff after being an 11-point underdog.
The Vikings were seven-point underdogs in Saturday’s divisional playoff at Levi’s Stadium, but it should have been a lot more. They were outclassed 27-10 by the superior 49ers.
The 49ers, the top seed in the NFC, overwhelmed No. 6 Minnesota in every phase. They ran over the Vikings’ vaunted defense. With the exception of Kirk Cousins throwing a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs in the first quarter, the Vikings did next to nothing on offense.
The Vikings were coming off a dramatic 26-20 overtime wild-card playoff win last Sunday at New Orleans. They were trying to pull off what the 1987 team had done in upsetting New Orleans 44-10 on the road before the stunning 36-24 win at San Francisco.
“It was kind of a complete debacle on all sides of the ball,’’ said Vikings defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo. “You can’t do that in the playoffs, especially going against a great team like San Fran, so kudos to those guys.’’
San Francisco will play host next Sunday in the NFC championship game to the winner of Sunday’s Seahawks-Packers game in Green Bay.
The 49ers outgained the Vikings 308-147, including 186-21 on the ground, and won the time of possession battle, 38:27 to 21:33. Tevin Coleman rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and Raheem Mostert added 58 yards.
“We didn’t stop the run,’’ said defensive end Everson Griffen, who can become a free agent and might have played his last Vikings game. “We just didn’t do good enough to win. They were the better team and they should have won. When we come out and play that way, that’s going to be the end result. Is it frustrating? Yes.’’
Meanwhile, the 49ers shut down Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook. He had a meager 18 yards on nine carries.
“It looked like they got off blocks well, and extra guys at the point of attack,’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings hung in for a while. After San Francisco took a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Kendrick Bourne on the first drive, Minnesota came right back with Cousins’ 41-yard toss to Diggs to tie the score 7-7.
Over the rest of the game, Minnesota was outscored 20-3. The only other points by the Vikings came after Garoppolo threw an ill-advised pass that Eric Kendricks picked off and returned four yards to the San Francisco 29 with 2:41 left in the first half. That led to a 39-yard field goal by Dan Bailey that cut the deficit to 14-10 with 36 seconds left in the half.
That remained the score at halftime, and Vikings did little in the second half. Coleman, who had scored on 1-yard run in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead, scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter for a 24-10 lead. That was sandwiched around a pair of second-half field goals by Robbie Gould.
“The 49ers I felt were the better team today,’’ Cousins said. “We didn’t do enough offensively to give ourselves a chance to win the game. It hurts right now.’’
Cousins completed 21 of 29 passes for 172 yards with an interception and was sacked six times. A pass intended for Adam Thielen was intercepted early in the third quarter by Richard Sherman. Afterward, Thielen took the blame for not finishing his route.
On that play, San Francisco defensive lineman Nick Bosa was penalized for unnecessary roughness for a hit on tackle Brian O’Neill that forced him out for the rest of the game with a concussion. Zimmer called it a “cheap shot.’’
Thielen played despite suffering a cut ankle Wednesday in practice that required four stitches and kept him out of practice Thursday. Thielen, who had five catches for 50 yards, said the injury did not limit him.
“Good enough to do my job but I didn’t do that at high enough of a level,’’ he said.
Diggs had missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday due to the flu before returning Thursday. Diggs, who finished with two catches for 57 yards, said he felt “fine’’ Saturday.
The Vikings sure didn’t look fine.
“They took it to us, they punched us in the mouth and we didn’t help ourselves when there were plays there to be made.,’’ Thielen said.
The Vikings had two turnovers. With Zimmer saying the wind was a factor, normally sure-handed Marcus Sherels lost the ball on a muffed a punt with 1:05 left in the third quarter at his 10. It was his second muff of the game, although he recovered the first one.
That led to Gould kicking his second field goal, a 21-yarder with 14:17 left to all but lock up the game.
After that, the 49ers defense had its way with Cousins. He was sacked four times in the fourth quarter.
“Later in the game, they were starting to jaw at each other,’’ Bosa said of the Vikings’ defense. “Yeah, we were bringing it on them. … They started to have some frustration. We just kept bringing it.’’
The frustration figures to continue for awhile on both sides of the ball for the Vikings. But Cook remained hopeful about moving forward.
“We started this thing back in (spring drills) and the ultimate goal was to win the Super Bowl and get to the big dance,’’ Cook said. “We fell short of that and it’s a big building block and a start of what we can accomplish next season. We just have to put this one in our back pocket and keep it there for a couple of months until we get this thing back going.’’
The Ultimate Tailgate Experience: Michael Mina’s Tailgate
Tailgating to a football game is an essential part to the whole game attending experience! It gives you a chance to gather with friends to discuss game details, eat good food, and rally each other up for the game. Here in the Bay Area we are extra lucky because the world renowned Chef Michael Mina is a huge Niner’s fan!
Chef Michael Mina has been a dedicated tailgater for nearly 30 years ever since the former games at Candlestick Park. His epic tailgate parties with friends and families were famous and of course well sought after. Now Levi’s Stadium Season Ticket holders have the exclusive opportunity to become Michael Mina’s
We had the privilege of getting a small glimpse of what members experience every home game (at least 10 a season). Doors open four hours prior to kick-off with amazing selections such as a raw bar, sushi, burgers, Bloody Mary bar, and so much more! Every event has a special guest chef that cooks up a couple unique dishes that can only be tasted for that event. Did we mention everything is buffet style with unlimited helpings? Pair that with an open bar and big screen TVs everywhere and your tailgate dreams can’t get any better!
You can stay at the tailgate till the end of the game but a section of the tailgate is closed during the third quarter. Most attendees enjoy everything pre game and head into the stadium once the game starts. During half time many come back for some refills since all the food and drink options are still available. You can also choose to stay at the tailgate throughout the whole game to watch on the many big screens throughout the area (like we did!).
Cowboys backup QB Cooper Rush finished his action 15 of 23 for 145 yards and a two-yard touchdown pass to WR Lance Lenoir. . Cowboys WR Cole Beasley didn't make the trip because he's dealing with a sore groin. He hasn't missed any training camp practices. WR Deonte Thompson (Achilles), LB Chris Covington (illness), WR Noah Brown (hamstring) and Maliek Collins (foot/physically unable to perform list) didn't travel north to Santa Clara after missing significant practice time. . The starting defensive tackles were Antwaun Woods and Datone Jones. Woods has continued to impress during camp. He spent most of the last two seasons with the Tennessee Titans practice squad. . S Marqueston Huff left the game with a groin injury. . Backup OL Marcus Martin suffered a right big toe injury.
So What’s the Patriots’ Secret to Success?
The defending champion Patriots are undefeated and boast the league’s highest-scoring offense. In 16 seasons under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have won the Super Bowl four times, been runner-up twice and missed the postseason a mere thrice, a Celtics-in-the-Sixties-caliber performance.
Yet the Patriots have no first-round draft selections on offense on the active roster. Sunday versus the Jets, New England started a third-string offensive tackle just signed off the taxi squad. At wide receiver the Flying Elvii start a seventh-round choice (Julian Edelman) and an undrafted free agent (Danny Amendola). There’s so much turnover at tailback — since the beginning of the 2014 season, LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, Dion Lewis, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and James White have started there — that New England tailbacks must wear a HELLO MY NAME IS nametag in the huddle.
The Patriots’ defense is a no-name group, and shut out Seattle in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. The undrafted free-agent rookie center David Andrews, who has already this season outperformed megabucks defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and Marcell Dareus, on Sunday outperformed defensive lineman Leonard Williams, the sixth overall selection of the same N.F.L. draft in which everyone passed on Andrews.
How does New England do it?
Because of Spygate, the continuing PSIcheated scandal and the never-proven rumors that New England uses electronic eavesdropping, some would answer that New England’s secret is cheating. This may be a factor, perhaps enough that Belichick’s name should appear in record books as Belichick*.
But even the worst-case view of Belichick* ethics can’t account for his team’s dominance. Other N.F.L. coaches, owners and fans want to believe the Patriots win by cheating because they don’t want to admit how many things the team simply does better than other teams. Among them:
■ Smart drafting. While other N.F.L. clubs put together blockbuster trade-ups seeking publicity, the Patriots consistently trade down to stockpile picks. Belichick views the draft as a lottery — the more tickets, the better.
■ No general manager. At many N.F.L. clubs, the coach and general manager engage in conflict regarding who gets credit or takes blame. The Patriots avoid this distraction by not having a general manager.
■ Focus on the job. Over at division rival Buffalo, players openly denounce the coaching staff (Mario Williams), rip into the officials (Nickell Robey) and have their agents call the front office to demand special treatment (Sammy Watkins). The last time a series of events like that happened under Belichick was — never.
■ Mechanized personalities. With the exception of Rob Gronkowski, Patriots tend not to say or do anything to seek attention. No matter how many points they win by, Patriots usually go out of their way to praise opponents. Ownership, coaches and players plainly despise the press corps, but would never be so ill-mannered as to say so. Politicians prepping for congressional committees should study New England news conferences.
■ Belichick could not possibly care less what anyone thinks of him. This is not a good character trait in a friend or public official. This works as an N.F.L. trait.
■ Opponent-specific game plans. The Jets have the league’s best run defense. Sunday, adjusting for sacks and scrambles, Josh McDaniels radioed in 59 passing plays and seven rushes. No N.F.L. team does a better job at tailoring tactics to the opponent.
■ Liberal arts or high education? Belichick is a graduate of Wesleyan. Matt Patricia, perhaps the league’s smartest defensive coordinator, graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The owner Robert Kraft graduated from Columbia and Jonathan Kraft, president of the team, from Williams. Belichick and the Patriots’ research director, Ernie Adams, met at Phillips Academy Adams went on to Northwestern. Dallas Coach Jason Garrett went to Princeton, and Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin to William & Mary — there are more well-educated personnel in N.F.L. management than might be guessed. But the Patriots are the top team in this regard.
■ Tom Brady. He’s always the first guy in the weight room. Brady has never thrown a public fit about less accomplished quarterbacks — Andy Dalton, Tony Romo — being paid more. With four rings, he appears totally focused on a fifth. Brady is a much better athlete than commonly understood — in the latest example, falling backward as he lofted a perfect touchdown pass to Gronkowski versus the Jets. And PSIcheated is such a motivator for him, Belichick* might have staged it.
Now here’s what T.M.Q. thinks is the most important distinction between the Patriots and the rest of the league: New England players are always moving.
For all the money and hype in the N.F.L., for all the year-round focus, it’s amazing how many downs feature at least one guy standing there doing nothing. Run back any snap of any team other than New England and look away from the ball — someone will be not pursuing, not blocking, just standing around watching. At New England, players never seem to stand around watching. Maybe Belichick gives them electric shocks if they don’t endlessly hustle. However accomplished, he gets more effort than any other N.F.L. coach.
Sweet Play of the Week. Miami leading Houston 21-0 at the start of the second quarter, the Marine Mammals (dolphins are not fish) faced second-and-8 at midfield. First Ryan Tannehill faked up the middle to tailback Lamar Miller then faked an end-around going right while this was happening, Miller pretended to backside-block for the end-around then Miller drifted into the left flat, took an uncontested swing pass and went 54 yards for a touchdown. Sweet.
Late in the second quarter, Miami led 41-0 — if this had been a high school game, it would have gone to running clock. Miller carried 14 times for 175 yards in the first half, then didn’t get a carry in the second half. In high school they pull the starters at halftime of a walkover! Extra sweet.
Sour Play of the Week. Facing fourth-and-9 at the Indianapolis 26, the Saints lined up to attempt a field goal. It’s a fake — pass completion to the Colts’ one-yard line. New Orleans scores a touchdown on the next snap and never looks back.
As the Saints’ field-goal unit lined up, Indianapolis had a contain man on the offensive right but not on the left. Tight end Ben Watson took off from the left, and there was no one to cover him. Most likely during film study, Saints coaches noticed this weakness in the Indianapolis place-kicking defense alignment. The same team — the Colts — that lost the previous week owing to a botched fake kick was unprepared for the opponent to fake a kick. That’s Sour Skittles.
Sweet ‘n’ Sour Play of the Week. Patriots leading the Jets 23-20 with 1:18 remaining, New England faced second-and-3 on the Jersey/B 15. Rob Gronkowski, uncovered by anyone, caught the touchdown pass that represented the final margin. Sweet.
Though Gronkowski entered the game with 65 career touchdown receptions (regular season and postseason) — and though Gronkowski to that juncture in the contest already had 10 receptions — the Jets’ defense allowed him to jog up the field uncovered. Jersey/B brought a seven-man blitz, a puzzling call since a sack would have left New England well within field-goal range, and the Jets had all their timeouts. What Jersey/B needed in this situation was to hold the Patriots to a field goal. Instead came an all-out blitz — leaving four defenders to guard five receivers. For Jersey/B, the whole down was a Sour Warhead.
Enter Promo Code REGULATION. Streaming the Wembley Stadium contest, Yahoo became the N.F.L.’s latest corporate partner. During the broadcast, Yahoo ran house ads for its new fantasy sports gambling website. An actor declared, “I can win money every single day” using Yahoo. Can is quite a fudge word.
Yahoo may be jumping into the sports-fantasy wagering business just as the peelers arrive, as would be said in Britain. Right now the business model of FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo is lawful. How long will this last?
State governments are likely to pressure Congress to change the 2006 law that bans Internet wagering on game outcomes, while allowing wagers on player statistics. Regardless of whether government should encourage people to lose money on lottos and at casinos, states have an interest in protecting their near-monopoly over legally obtained gambling revenue. Yahoo — and Comcast, Fox, Google and Time Warner, through investments in FanDuel and DraftKings — are muscling in on the action. A states-versus-corporations showdown regarding fantasy gambling may become a must-win for government, because corporate victory would make state deficits even worse.
Stats of the Week. The Panthers are on a 10-0 streak in the regular season.
Hosting the Seahawks, Santa Clara had more punts (9) than first downs (8).
Since the start of the 2012 season, Matt Cassel has thrown 31 touchdown passes and 37 interceptions.
The Lions are on a 1-8 stretch. New England is on a 26-6 streak in its division.
Under Bruce Arians, Arizona is 16-4 at home.
More Evidence Against Kicking on Fourth-and-Short. In the first half at New England, facing the league’s highest-scoring team, Jersey/B reached fourth-and-goal and did the “safe” thing by launching a field goal. When the Flying Elvii faced fourth-and-goal, they went for the touchdown. Needless to say, New England won.
In the first half at Washington, the Buccaneers had fourth-and-2 on the 4 and did the “safe” thing by kicking. Just to prove it was no fluke, leading 27-24 with 2:26 remaining and facing fourth-and-goal on the 3, City of Tampa once again kicked. Needless to say, Washington won. The Buccaneers are now on an 8-30 stretch, a testament in part to reliance on “safe” tactics.
Of course there are examples of coaches taking close-in field goals rather than trying for a touchdown, and winning the game. But in general the short fourth-and-goal is like the midfield fourth-and-short: To coaches, sending in a kicker protects them from criticism. If coaches do the expected and kick, and the team loses, the players are blamed. If the coach orders a try and the team loses, the coach is blamed.
Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons note: T.M.Q. contends that defense starts comebacks, offense stops them. The Persons fell behind 0-24 in the first half, but for the remainder of the contest, allowed the Bucs just two field goals. Kirk Cousins got the attention for his last-second winning touchdown pass, but defense was the key to Washington’s comeback.
How to Make Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders Fly. Noting the proliferation of drones floating on downward-facing fans, last week I asked readers to calculate how big the fans would need to be to enable the S.H.I.E.L.D. flying aircraft carrier of the “Avengers” movies. With these assumptions: The helicarrier weighs 50,000 tons while the fans themselves, and their power source, are weightless and generate no drag.
Fernando de Castro Assis, a flight test engineer in São José dos Campos, Brazil, calculates that four fans each with a radius of 130 yards would cause the helicarrier to hover at sea level, though thrust would need to be added for forward motion. A fan with a radius of 130 yards would have close to the width of Levi’s Stadium, where the next Super Bowl will be played. And you need four.
Henry Harper of Boise, Idaho, compared the imaginary helicarrier to a large actual aircraft, the S-64 Skycrane, and came up with a diameter of about 550 yards, making the fans substantially wider than Levi’s Stadium. He noted that fan speed would be limited to 10 revolutions per minute, “or else the outer area of the blades would go supersonic.”
Alan Cotterman of Centerville, Ohio, reports that after assuming some material able to withstand the forces involved — we’re assuming the Hulk, so why not assume that? — he used this NASA paper on ducted fan performance to calculate third-of-a-mile-wide fans, about the number Harper got. That’s three times the size of the largest wind turbine in the world. The stuff in Captain America’s shield might be needed for a material to construct blades so long that they are barely moving at the center while transonic at the tips.
Daniel Steinbach of Commack, N.Y., came up with each fan being about five miles across, almost twice the length of the Tappan Zee Bridge, and about 500 megawatts needed to make the fans turn. That’s close to the output of a new unit about to go online at the Watts Barr nuclear reactor station.
Impossible aircraft note: T.M.Q. is a fan of Lego’s architecture series, which includes Fallingwater, the Imperial Hotel and other icons. Surely this year’s coolest Lego is the 3,000-piece helicarrier.
Why the Ravens Keep LeBron James Up at Night. Baltimore’s 1-6 record should worry LeBron James. Two months ago, Sports Illustrated predicted on its cover that Baltimore would win the Super Bowl. Last week, Sports Illustrated predicted Cleveland would win the N.B.A. championship.
It’s Impossible to Fire the Team. In Miami’s first six quarters under the novice coach Dan Campbell, the Dolphins outscored opponents 79-10.
Often, firing the head coach during the season — Joe Philbin at Miami, Al Golden at the University of Miami, Steve Sarkisian at U.S.C. — serves only to placate fans over a losing streak. In the Dolphins’ case, transition from the introverted Philbin to the super-emotional Campbell lit a fire. How long the fire may burn is another issue.
Hurricanes note: In sports reference, this college is “Miami of Florida,” since Miami University is in Ohio. Miami of Florida has fired three straight coaches — Larry Coker, Randy Shannon and Golden — for not winning enough. The University of Miami has now joined the ranks of other big colleges that don’t even bother to pretend their sports programs are anything other than tax-exempt businesses unrelated to education. As for the next coach of the Hurricanes, the boosters will really have your back — in order to thrust a knife into it.
Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk. Trailing Seattle 20-3 with four minutes remaining, Santa Clara punted on fourth-and-4. Just to prove it was no fluke, still behind 20-3 with three minutes to go, Santa Clara punted on fourth-and-3. The home crowd booed loudly. “That’s what you do, you punt the football, the game is over,” the CBS color man Phil Simms said. It certainly is if you punt!
In the rankings-based collegiate realm, punting in order to constrain the margin of defeat can make sense. In the N.F.L., where only wins and losses matter, conceding the contest by punting (however unlikely a comeback) makes no sense for the team’s prospects, but can be good for the coach. The novice head coach Jim Tomsula surely did not want a blowout defeat on his record. When comes his year-end performance review, he doesn’t want to hear, “We got roasted by the Seahawks in prime time.” He wants to be able to say, “My defense held the Seahawks to 20 points in prime time.” Seattle leading 17-0 late in the third quarter, the Niners reached fourth-and-2 on the Seahawks’ 17, and Tomsula sent in the field-goal unit. The purpose seemed obvious: to keep “we got shut out by Seattle” off Tomsula’s year-end performance review.
Two years ago, T.M.Q. took a lot of heat from San Francisco fans — who at the time actually were San Francisco fans — for saying Colin Kaepernick couldn’t run a pro-style offense and is prone to “sailing the ball where no receiver awaits.” Repeatedly in the contested portion of the Seahawks contest, Kaepernick sailed the ball beyond anyone’s reach. Adjusting for sacks and scrambles, Kaepernick dropped back to pass 30 times for a net of 81 yards gained, an awful 2.7 yards per dropback. Trying to convert Kaepernick into a pro-style pocket passer simply hasn’t worked. The Niners either should employ him as a college-style running quarterback, or switch to Blaine Gabbert.
It hasn’t helped that Santa Clara sank a bundle of high draft choices into wide receivers Michael Crabtree, A.J. Jenkins and Stevie Johnson, none of whom remain with the team. The Niners’ 2012 draft ranks among the all-time woofers. Jenkins and LaMichael James, selected in the first and second rounds, already are O.O.F. — Out of Football. No one else from that draft remains with the franchise.
Jim Harbaugh arrived at the Niners in 2010, with the team on a talent upswing — NaVorro Bowman, Anthony Davis, Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Joe Staley, Patrick Willis, others. Harbaugh took the credit for a few good seasons, then skedaddled as the impact of player personnel decisions with which he concurred, including the 2012 draft, became apparent. Getting out of town before people realize what you’ve done to the team — Harbaugh heading to Michigan, Pete Carroll fleeing U.S.C. in 2010 — is essential for many megabucks coaches.
Same Network Has Sunday Afternoon Shows Extolling Football, Sunday Evening Show Damning It. On the CBS prime-time serial “Madam Secretary,” the fictional secretary of state is upset because her teen son made the high school football team. She wants him to quit so he won’t sustain a brain injury. CBS also broadcasts the N.F.L. and big-college football. So is the “Madam Secretary” concussion subplot an instance of a network allowing creative expression against its own financial interests, or indication that a network wants to have it both ways about football risk?
Disclaimer of the Week. At a recent autumnal farmer’s market, your columnist learned that eggs from pastured hens are the new free-range chicken. Several farmers were selling such eggs. One had a sign that read EGGS FROM PASTEURIZED HENS.
Seasonal Migrant Workers Self-Deport Immediately Following Game. Weeks ago, Tuesday Morning Quarterback noted that no N.F.L. London game has ever paired two winning teams. (Scan for “clunkers.”) This coming Sunday is the final London contest of the season, 1-6 Detroit versus 2-5 Kansas City.
The 3-3 Buffalo “at” 1-5 Jacksonville London game was preceded by singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” and ‘God Save the Queen.” These lines of “God Save the Queen” were not performed: Scatter [the Queen’s] enemies and make them fall/ Confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks.
Adventures in Officiating. Buffalo leading 31-27 with three minutes remaining, the Jaguars, facing third-and-15 at midfield, seemed out of knavish tricks. A pass fell incomplete. Pass interference against Buffalo gave the “home” team a first down, preceding the winning touchdown.
Not only was there no pass interference on the play, but there wasn’t anything that even appeared to be interference — cornerback Nickell Robey was running stride-for-stride with the intended receiver, didn’t touch him, and in any case had the same right to play the ball. But whether pastured or caged, chickens come home to roost. The Bills lead the league in penalties, play an undisciplined style, and mouth off nonstop. Until such time as Rex Ryan may get control of his team, the Bills will find themselves on the short end of calls.
Adventures in Officiating No. 2. On “Monday Night Football,” Arizona tailback Chris Johnson went down atop a defender Johnson stopped and all Baltimore defenders stopped, though Johnson’s knee was not on the ground then Johnson leapt up and ran 62 yards, positioning the home team for a field goal that created a 20-10 lead.
Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh protested that Johnson’s forward progress had stopped, and Harbaugh is correct. In the 2015 rulebook, scan for “forward progress.” Definition: “The forward progress of a runner or airborne receiver is the point at which his advance toward his opponent’s goal ends and is the spot at which the ball is declared dead by rule.” The whistle should have sounded when Johnson stopped attempting to move forward.
If a ball carrier who stops trying to go forward is still a live-ball runner, then defenders can hit him. Harbaugh correctly noted the league has been teaching defenders to pull up in exactly this situation. If a Raven had piled into Johnson, Baltimore would have been flagged, even though zebras later decided the play was not over. The new rule book bans contact with “a runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped.” This botched call was not a judgment error, but rather yet another instance of N.F.L. officials not knowing the league’s rules.
Best Line of the Week. As the endless is-he-or-isn’t-he Percy Harvin melodrama continues, Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk called the gentleman in question “Schrödinger’s wideout.”
“Moo!” Said the Texans’ Logo. Trailing 41-0 at Miami, Houston faced fourth-and-36.
When fans return to Bay Area sports, one thing's certain: They won't be taken for granted
The 49ers take the Levi’s Stadium field before playing Philadelphia on Oct. 4. After a rousing 2019 at home (8-2 including the playoffs), this season they’re 1-3 in Santa Clara.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle
The 49ers entered an almost empty Gillette Stadium on Sunday to play the Patriots. There were no Patriots fans to welcome Jimmy Garoppolo back to Foxborough in that special New England way, no jeers or cheers from the crowd, no deafening noise to disrupt the 49ers&rsquo quarterback when he&rsquos calling plays.
It was, as everything has been for the past few months, very strange.
During the pandemic, while most games are being played with nobody in attendance or very limited capacity in the stands, we&rsquore learning a lot about the role of fans. And even in a sport that seems made mostly for television, like the NFL, it&rsquos unlikely players or coaches will ever take ticket buyers for granted again.
&ldquoNot having fans in your stadium is a huge deal,&rdquo 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said, after Santa Clara County announced Tuesday it would not allow even a limited number of fans into Levi&rsquos Stadium. &ldquoOur fans are a huge part of it. They&rsquore a huge part of every team, but I feel it a little bit different here than everywhere else I&rsquove been.
&ldquoJust the feeling they brought our team last year, I think really changed this building.&rdquo
Just a season after the 49ers finally managed to establish some kind of home-field advantage and atmosphere at Levi&rsquos, the pandemic stripped them of that benefit.
Of the 12 NFL games played Sunday, seven had a limited number of fans in the stands. The disparity in the number is as wide as the difference in states&rsquo approaches to handling the coronavirus. In Glendale, Ariz., 1,200 fans were allowed in when the Cardinals hosted the Seahawks. At the Superdome in New Orleans, 3,000 fans watched the Saints play the Panthers. In Houston, attendance is close to 20% &mdash about 13,000 tickets.
The Jets, Raiders and both teams that play at the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood (Los Angeles County) &mdash the Rams and Chargers &mdash will not allow any fans.
Though it&rsquos doubtful that 1,200 individuals can have much impact in the Arizona Cardinals&rsquo vast 63,400-seat stadium, having several thousand can give a team a lift. At Cowboys games, we have been able to hear the 24,000 fans (though the way the Cowboys are playing, the team might wish Texas had stricter pandemic protocols).
At the World Series, also being played in Arlington, Texas, it seems clear from the sound that most of the 11,000 in the stands are rooting for the Dodgers.
But it&rsquos not just the sounds that the players miss: the cheers and applause and even the boos, the ambient crowd noise that fills the stands and means players don&rsquot hear everything the opponent is saying.
What they really miss is the energy that fans bring, that electricity and emotion that fill stadiums and that players are having to manufacture for themselves.
Athletes in all sports have commented on the strange void, the flatness that they have to find a way to fill.
&ldquoYou&rsquove got to create your own energy here,&rdquo the Lakers&rsquo LeBron James said in the NBA bubble. &ldquoWe understand that there are no fans. Our wonderful fans are watching this game on the TV, on the laptops, phones, iPads, whatever the case may be. So, it&rsquos about us creating our own energy, understanding what we&rsquore here for and that&rsquos to get better. That&rsquos what it&rsquos all about.&rdquo
That has been particularly obvious in baseball, where the silence in stadiums can become oppressive when a team is trailing.
The A&rsquos experienced that at Dodger Stadium against the Astros. In the third game of the best-of-five series, in a 2-0 hole and trailing, the A&rsquos dugout was lifeless. It took an outburst by Ramón Laureano to create energy, and the team rallied.
&ldquoIt gets a little quiet, a little tired and worn out,&rdquo Laureano said. &ldquoThe fans give us that adrenaline. And we need that little energy.&rdquo
His teammate Matt Olson said, &ldquoThese games are so momentum-based. And with no fans, we had fallen into a trap of not getting fired up. Ramón fired us up. He gave us the kick in the butt we needed.&rdquo
Manager Bob Melvin said that type of player speech can&rsquot work all the time, but it helped the A&rsquos at that moment.
&ldquoWith no fans in the stands, there&rsquos not that buzz,&rdquo Melvin said. &ldquoYou have to create your own adrenaline.&rdquo
The A&rsquos couldn&rsquot re-create that energy, succumbing to the Astros the next day.
That same kind of flatness could have been part of the 49ers&rsquo problem in their 43-17 loss to the Dolphins. On a hot October afternoon in an empty stadium, they fell behind early and did not rally. After the game they spoke of needing more of a sense of urgency.
Fans bring a sense of urgency. An energy. A standard. The 49ers likely would have been booed off the field at halftime against Miami. They might not have rallied, but at least they could have tapped into some passion that they were unable to manufacture themselves.
We don&rsquot know when they&rsquoll be able to come back. But the pandemic has taught us that paying fans really are a part of the team.
Touchdown Super Bowl
It is the apex of America’s gladiatorial inheritance from Rome’s Coliseum, one of the biggest events watched by Americans and a growing international audience. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem.
Super Bowl 50 began a week ago with the championship playoffs.
The Carolina Panthers (17-1) of the NFC had it easy with the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers led early and never looked back, crushing the Cardinals 45-17. Panther QB Cam Newton can develop a winning habit. Panthers’ D is formidable.
In the AFC, the Broncos (14-4) prevailed, but barely. Peyton Manning got the Broncos ahead on the first half. Tom Brady put on a show to catch up. It just was not enough. Brady held the short bag with the Patriots 18, Broncos 20.
Super Bowl was marketed to be archaically impressive as the number of the game was in Roman numerals, would have been SB L rather than SB 50.
Manning will be the oldest QB when SB 50 kicks off. He appeared on four SBs, won only one. A win this time will make him fade gloriously into the sunset.
Venue of SB 50 is at the Levi’s Football Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, home to the SF 49ers (a costly promo for Levi Straus, the San Francisco jeans company). Early on, the 49ers and San Francisco tried to retain the team at Candlestick Park but negotiations fell apart the 49ers’ office and training facility is located in Santa Clara so they got an offer. SF’s condition was that the 49ers retained their name.
Levi’s Stadium is a very sophisticated football field in the League, garnering awards for a design that created a multi-purpose venue focused on fans’ experience and a top ecological green technology feature, to boot. The playing field green grass beats the plastic turfs of many gridirons solar panels are installed on the roof and the thermal comfort control and the programmable lighting control systems are examples of the eco-friendly engineering and architectural design that went into the planning.
The professional football game that culminated in today’s Super Bowl is distinctively American. Its international version is “soccer,” which is really football. One kicked the ball from one end of the field to the other until it makes it through the netted upright. American football, other than when they kick the ball, is anything but football. It is mostly carrying the ball and roughing the other guy, or the QB throws the ball to a receiver who takes it to the end zone, and the audience roar their approval, sometime simulate a wave in their painted faces.
The menacing growl of the forest panther and the wild bucking of the feral horse was a marketing image used in today’s contest. The Bronco is usually caught in the wild, now used in rodeos, domesticated but trained to buck its rider. The panther as jaguar is best left alone in the wild, like the puma, mountain lion, leopard, cougar, the jag is the favored mount of Dionysius in ancient mythology.
The Panthers were a 5-point favorite coming into the game but by the end of the 1st Q, the Broncos led 10-to-zilt. Momentum tilted toward the Panthers who scored on the 2nd Q but the Broncos added another upright kick as Broncos scored 13 to Panthers 7 to end the half.
The halftime hoopla had Beyoncé in Chris Martin’s Coldplay band that featured Bruno Mars, too. One probably needs to have slow motion to appreciate the new technology that goes into the 30-minute production. What is on stage is not a personality but acts of precision and symmetry, though Beyoncé’s leggy team did not displease. Technicians handled voice and light well, and the camera work had drones overhead, cameras all over the stadium. However, the CBS broadcast had an echo that doubled the vocals.
The Panthers started the 2nd half but its drive sputtered and its kick hit the upright so the Broncos took over. Peyton Manning dealt with the daunting Panther D, his drive sputtered as well. The three-point field goal was successful making the score 16-7. Cam took over and was heading to the end zone when a pass was too strongly thrown that it was intercepted. The Broncos’ running back took it up from the team’s end zone but the Panther D kept an uncrossable line. Cam kept scrambling but was sacked five times on the 3rd Q, ending 16-7 Broncos.
The 4th Q had Manning stripped of the ball and Cam went to work but could only earn a field goal, 16-10, still Broncos but only a touchdown away. But Cam was intercepted and the Broncos went Buckaroo. Manning added a score and a two-point conversion. The final score was Broncos 24, Panthers 10. The newcomer Newtown was out-Manned by age and experience.
In the CNMI, workers nursed their Bud clustered in front of communal TVs. At home, the lady of the house kept the pizza and Heineken coming for “hungry and thirsty men.” Right, Ladies? Yo, where did you go?
Stevan Jovetic brace lifts Man City over AC Milan in friendly
Pittsburgh: English Premier League champions Manchester City cruised to a 5-1 triumph over Italy`s AC Milan on Sunday in a weather-hit friendly at Heinz Field, home of the NFL`s Pittsburgh Steelers.
Manuel Pellegrini`s men stormed into an early 2-0 lead thanks to strikes from Stevan Jovetic in the 11th minute and Scott Sinclair in the 14th, the two making the most of a Milan defense that struggled with Manchester City`s pace down the right flank.
City continued to dominate and added a third as Jesus Navas`s acrobatic effort from outside the area was deflected past helpless Milan goalkeeper Michael Agazzi in the 23rd minute.
City added a fourth after 26 minutes when Nigerian teenager Kelechi Iheanacho, who has been training with the club for several weeks, picked the ball up on the edge of the box, turned and slotted it home.
Sulley Muntari pulled one back for Milan shortly before halftime, making it 4-1 going into the break which was extended as fans were cleared from the stands because of a heavy thunderstorm that brought lightning and a tornado warning.
The sides eventually emerged for the second half and the English outfit picked up where they had left off -- Montenegro international Jovetic making it 5-1 in the 58th.
Former City striker Mario Balotelli, who sat out Milan`s 3-0 loss to Olympiakos in Toronto on Thursday, came on for the second half and had a goal ruled out for offside.
The match was part of the International Champions Cup, a collection of pre-season matches featuring eight European clubs all preparing for the start of their domestic campaigns.
At Soldier Field in Chicago, home of the NFL`s Bears, England international Raheem Sterling scored the only goal in Liverpool`s 1-0 victory over Olympiakos of Greece.
The winger struck after just five minutes, seizing upon a deflected strike by Daniel Sturridge and finishing.
Olympiakos came close to equalizing, but Gevorg Ghazaryan was denied by the crossbar early in the second half.
A crowd of 36,170 turned out for the contest, in which Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers selected a starting side that included proven players such as Steven Gerrard, Sterling and Sturridge and also handed a maiden appearance for the club to recent recruit Lazar Markovic.
The result gave Liverpool a winning start to their International Champions Cup campaign, after they had fallen 1-0 to Roma in a friendly in Boston to start their North American tour.
Spanish champions Atletico Madrid were also Stateside on Sunday for some pre-season action, taking a 4-3 win on penalties after playing to a 0-0 draw against Major League Soccer`s San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco.
The match was notable as the last sports event scheduled at Candlestick Park, the stadium that was the home of baseball`s San Francisco Giants from 1960 until 2000 and has been the home of the NFL`s 49ers since 1971.
The 49ers are moving to their new Levi`s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara in the upcoming season.
Late Jordan Morris goal delivers U.S. sixth Gold Cup championship
The annual championship of North America, Central America and Caribbean played out before a half-full Levi`s stadium in Santa Clara, California, home to the state`s famed Silicon Valley.
Jordan Morris scored in the 88th minute to help United States to a 2-1 win against Jamaica in the Gold Cup final in Northern California on Wednesday as the Americans secured their sixth championship.
His 14-yard strike came after a cross by U.S. midfielder Gyasi Zardes ricocheted off Clint Dempsey and landed perfectly for forward Morris, who sent the ball past the diving arms of replacement Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.
Jose Altidore had given the hosts the lead just before halftime when his perfectly judged free kick curled over the defensive wall and a diving Miller into the net.
The goal was sweet redemption for Morris, whose defensive error in the second half allowed Jamaican midfielder Vaughn Watson to tie the game 1-1 in the 50th minute.
"He made up for it," U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who is undefeated in 14 games since taking the reigns in November, told reporters after the match.
"It was a big step that he took tonight."
Morris, who graduated from nearby Stanford University, lost his man close to the goal and Watson responded by delivering a six-yard strike off an assist by Kemar Lawrence, the hero from Jamaica`s upset 1-0 win over Mexico on Sunday.
The tone of the match had changed when Jamaican goalie and team captain Andre Blake was forced to leave midway through the first half after American Kellyn Acosta stepped on his hand while taking a shot on goal.
Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said the injury to the standout 26-year-old may require stitches but insisted it was not serious.
The Reggae Boyz ran the Americans close during the entire match, playing tenacious defense and using their speed to push the tempo on offense.
But the Americans, who had nearly 70 percent ball possession, were eventually able to wear the opposition defense down.
"Congratulations to the U.S. team, they did a good job tonight," Whitmore said. "But the sky is the limit for us, we just have to keep on working."
The annual championship of North America, Central America and Caribbean played out before a half-full Levi`s stadium in Santa Clara, California, home to the state`s famed Silicon Valley.
Is the Billboard Hot 100 Broken?
Maybe it’s “One Dance,” Drake’s latest dance-floor anthem? Or is it “Panda,” the inescapable trap from newbie Brooklyn rapper Desiigner? What about Justin Timberlake’s pop jingle, “Can’t Stop the Feeling”?
Billboard publishes 111 different weekly charts that track the current popularity of songs and albums across a broad variety of genres and distribution platforms. But to answer the question above, you’d typically consult Billboard’s flagship chart, the Hot 100.
Published since 1958, first in the physical Billboard magazine and now also online, the Hot 100 purports to measure the “overall popularity” of all songs commercially distributed in the U.S. While the math and components that constitute the Hot 100 have, naturally, evolved over the course of six decades, the chart has, since its inception, been the authority on any given song’s popularity in the U.S.
The Hot 100 used to measure the popularity of commercial singles — think “Smooth,” the Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas collaboration that rode the no. 1 song spot for 12 straight weeks in 1999 on the strength of massive radio play and platinum cassette and CD sales. But today’s marketplace doesn’t neatly distinguish among official singles (e.g., “One Dance”), album cuts (“Hype”), and mixtape material (“Jumpman”). The guy behind all three of those songs, Drake, has notably dominated the Hot 100 chart by dropping all sorts of releases at once. (For the record: “One Dance,” Drake’s first no. 1 single, spent 10 weeks atop the Hot 100 before being usurped this week by Sia’s “Cheap Thrills.”)
The questions now are whether and how the Hot 100 can sustain its singular usefulness in a marketplace that contains multitudes. Piracy is immeasurable. Sales and streams aren’t comparable to one another. Streaming music exclusives, such as Beyoncé’s single “Formation,” further confound assessment of a song’s true reach. The musical ecosystem is more fractured than ever, and Billboard is trying to create a coherent statement from all the pieces.
According to Silvio Pietroluongo, vice president of charts and data development at Billboard, the Hot 100 is still the industry standard. “The Hot 100 is, by leaps and bounds, our most-trafficked chart,” Pietroluongo says. “It’s still the most-quoted chart among media, labels, PR companies when there is a success story to publicize.” As a record of success, the chart’s credibility persists — despite the fact that a no. 1 hit single in 2016 has achieved a quantifiably different feat than a no. 1 hit single as recently as the turn of the century.
As of 2014, the Billboard Hot 100 is calculated using data from three subcategory singles charts:
- Radio Songs, a Nielsen Audio measure of terrestrial and satellite airplay
- Streaming Songs, a measure of online traffic measured by the traditional music track service Nielsen SoundScan
- Digital Songs, a measure of online sales, also measured by SoundScan
(Billboard charts have relied on Nielsen data since 1991, when the publication made the switch from phone research to SoundScan’s purchase-tracking system.)
At face value, the distinction between what qualifies as success on each of the latter two charts might seem a bit wonky it’s all just music on the internet. In recent weeks, listeners have purchased Justin Timberlake’s single “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” the top song on the Digital chart, more than they’ve purchased anything else, whereas listeners have streamed the rookie Desiigner’s single “Panda,” the top song on the Streaming chart, more than they’ve streamed anything else.
They’re both successful songs both no. 1 hit records, in fact. But only one song, “Panda,” held its no. 1 spot on the Hot 100 for multiple weeks, largely on the strength of its total weekly streams — a data point that Billboard and SoundScan have been counting toward the Hot 100 for less than two years. On the Billboard albums chart, which measures sales, 1,500 song streams are equal to one album sale. But for the Hot 100, which is effectively a hybrid chart measuring sales and airplay, it’s a free-for-all: “You’ll have Spotify streams, Apple Music streams, video plays on YouTube, you know, even incorporate user-generated clips that incorporate the actual music into our calculations,” Pietroluongo says. “We have weighted factors, and there’s a formula to it.” But Billboard has yet to reveal exactly how its math works, and what it favors.
Desiigner initially released his street single, “Panda,” via SoundCloud in December 2015. Five months later, the song became a no. 1 hit record. “Panda” had shot onto the Hot 100 shortly after Kanye West incorporated it into “Pt. 2,” a cut from West’s February album release, The Life of Pablo — initially a Tidal exclusive. “Panda,” on the other hand, was free to stream everywhere. And so “Panda,” a viral hit unbound to a single streaming service, quickly eclipsed the chart positions of “Pt. 2” and every other song on Pablo. Kanye is the bigger artist, and yet Desiigner’s single is, by far, bigger than any song on Kanye’s album.
Pietroluongo describes the limited reach of platform-exclusive music — such as Pablo — as a challenge for artists, labels, and music-streaming services to sort out amongst themselves. “The more places your song is, the more likely people are to stream it,” he says. “If you’re limiting it to one place, it may limit your total volume for the week.”
Stream, steal, or buy: Those are your choices. The premium streaming services represent just one batch of countless channels by which consumers can hear music. And so Billboard now bears the complex task of incorporating traffic from an ever-widening variety of platforms — YouTube, Vevo, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, Vine, Twitter, etc. — into a standardized accounting that ranks all these songs together. Billboard has struggled to do this, though not for lack of some recent, belated attempts to measure streaming beyond the official figures provided by the major players. (Had “Panda” come out before Billboard started counting YouTube views in 2013, the song likely would have never topped the Hot 100.)
The magazine’s Twitter Top Tracks chart, a weekly measure of the most-mentioned songs on the social media service, represents one attempt to make sense of the noise. Take “Formation,” for instance. The first single from Beyoncé’s latest album, Lemonade, initially went live the night of Feb. 6 — a day before her halftime performance at Super Bowl 50 — as an unlisted music video on YouTube. Hours later, “Formation” was available on Tidal. Immediately upon its release, the song generated a deafening volume of buzz given Beyoncé’s stature, her song’s controversial subject matter, and her forthcoming Super Bowl show. Once Beyoncé and her dancers, styled as Black Panthers, performed “Formation” live at Levi’s Stadium, the song’s buzz grew somehow louder.
While “Formation” quickly shot to the no. 2 spot on the Twitter Top Tracks chart the week of Feb. 20, 2016, the song didn’t break into the Hot 100 until May, following Tidal’s commercial release of Lemonade in full. Only by checking the Streaming Songs and Top Twitter Track charts, instead of the Hot 100, would a reader deduce that “Formation” peaked in the public consciousness in the weeks immediately following Super Bowl 50.
Pietroluongo explains that music streaming services do exercise significant control over Billboard’s ability to account for the streams and sales of exclusive releases, like those from Rihanna and Beyoncé (for Tidal) and Drake and Chance the Rapper (for Apple Music). “There are those certain times where a streaming service may not give us the information because it’s exclusive. It’s really nothing new historically — there was a time when Walmart was selling an album exclusively and they didn’t report it because they didn’t want to be transparent about the data for certain releases,” he says. “A lot of times the decision can come from the service itself, it can come from the label, it can come from the artist, the manager — so there are certain times where we may not be getting proper data from these streaming services.”
And that’s not to mention user content–sharing platforms such as SoundCloud (whose data Pietroluongo says Billboard doesn’t incorporate into its charts due to “a combination of factors,” including a failure to strike a partnership with the company) as well as file-hosting piracy hotbeds such as BitTorrent and Zippyshare. Combined with premium streaming, the way we consume music in 2016 has become so informal and porous that official measurement is a crapshoot.
If you’re trying to get a handle on the musical landscape, there are emerging alternatives to Billboard and the Hot 100. Since 2009, the song-identification service Shazam has published its own set of music-streaming charts, including a Top 100 chart that uses Shazam app traffic to determine the most popular songs in the U.S. as well as 50 other countries and a Future Hits chart that tracks Shazam user interest in new and emerging releases. Spotify has a similar charts model, and on top of that the service provides hit-predictive curation based on user behavior. “Rap Caviar,” a hip-hop playlist managed by in-house curation expert Tuma Basa, is a mix of big, established singles (Drake’s “Controlla”) and more speculative picks (Travis Scott’s “Pick Up the Phone,” French Montana and Kodak Black’s “Lockjaw”). (Spotify declined to comment for this article.)
In a recent BuzzFeed report about the curation experts employed by Spotify, Apple Music, and Google, journalist Reggie Ugwu explores the ways in which digital playlists have drastically reorganized the music economy. “Spotify says 50% of its more than 100 million users globally are listening to its human-curated playlists (not counting those in the popular, algorithmically personalized ‘Discover Weekly’), which cumulatively generate more than a billion plays per week,” Ugwu writes. “According to an industry estimate, 1 out of every 5 plays across all streaming services today happens inside of a playlist.” (Spotify’s recent partnership with the website Genius, which is providing the streaming platform with lyrics annotations, playlist curation, editorial content, and artists’ commentary, could signal a trend of music channels further evolving toward the record stores of yore.)
Programming and tracking are two different functions, of course the Billboard charts measure airplay but aren’t themselves a radio station. Mind you, FM radio is still massively popular, reaching millions of listeners, despite the digital paradigm shift, and so the Hot 100 is still a useful, unique, and authoritative measure of traditional airplay. It’s just no longer the all-encompassing measure that it once was. Now more than ever, determining the hottest song in America in any given week will depend on who you ask.