Australians aren’t just watching sport on TV – last weekend millions grabbed their phones to both watch and chat about the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Finals.

The country’s biggest telecoms company, Telstra, said data use on its networks surged by up to 25% in some states during the Grand Finals, The Age reported.

In Western Australia, a quarter of all data use while the AFL Grand Final on was related to the game, which was won by the West Coast Eagles. And in Victoria, network data traffic leaped 18% on the back of Saturday’s final as Collingwood fans followed the game.

There were similar spikes in data use around the NRL Grand Final at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium between local team Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm. Traffic rose 19% compared to last year, with peak data use occurring ahead of kick off in the early afternoon, Telstra said; SMS messages were up 7% between 5pm and 10pm.

In South Australia, 21% of traffic was related to the AFL game while it was on, and in New South Wales, the AFL and NRL finals accounted for around 7% of all traffic while they were taking place. Across all states, the traffic surge was under 10% for the NRL final.

Even fans watching the action live were heavy data users – spectators at Melbourne Cricket Ground for the AFL final used 22% more data than during last year’s game. Most of the use was during the six and half hours before the kick off, but there were also spikes during half time and after the final whistle.

Telstra executive director of networks Channa Seneviratne told Fairfax Media much of the extra data use was due to video posting on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat while the games were on.

Telstra says that use of its apps and networks surge during major sports events at places like pubs, shopping centres and remote locations such as mining towns. “In mining towns … they don’t have free-to-air, probably don’t have Foxtel, but do have mobile coverage and get access [to their sport] via the mobile network,” Seneviratne said.

A survey by Deloitte published last month showed that more than 40% of young men in Australia use mobile phone apps to watch sport.

Sourced from The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff