|Technology enhances the stadium experience|
Friday, 25 November 2016 11:22
Technology is forever changing the ways in which sports organisations interact with fans and create new, compelling ways of bringing the fan closer to the action – whether it’s online or in stadia.
Virtual reality, social media and stadiums themselves are providing sports teams opportunities and they are grabbing the opportunities with both hands.
Josh Decker, CEO of social media aggregator Tagboard, believes that the fans are looking for an all-round experience at sporting events.
He said: “If you think about the NFL, I go to a game on Sundays and it's a four or five hour experience. You can go there early with some friends, enjoy a beer, or visit the team store. Whatever you are doing, you are there for five hours. The action on the field is only part of that time period.
“There is a lot of downtime during that experience. I know European football is a bit different as you have around 90 minutes of action, but you still get downtime, and during that time you have to let fans enjoy their mobile devices, connect with friends and share their experience via social media.”
“Most stadiums have fibre-optic Wi-Fi, I can get better signal at the Seattle Seahawks game than I can in my living room. Teams are realising that having a connective fan is bringing more fans in.
“Some fans wouldn't go to games because they couldn't use their phones, they'd rather watch the game at the bar or at home. Now with connectivity coming up to speed in Europe, we are seeing that they've got more infrastructure to connect with the fans.”
Connecting with fans is a massive challenge for the sports teams, with so many options on the table, it’s crucial to pick the right one to suit each fan group.
It is an issue that Hussain Naqi, SVP of International Development, formerly SVP of fan engagement, knows only too well.
He said: “We have to be conscious of the way that technologies are engaging with fans. That's where we find ourselves on a regular basis.
“We have partnered with a company to do a VR set of content that we have actually started filming at our games two weeks ago. These are all elements that we are trying to engage with our fans in a way that they are now consuming technology and sports - it's great way of bringing our game over here, certainly from a VR perspective, it gives people a sense of just how incredible a game day experience is.
“We are opening up an audience of people who aren't hardcore fans but are interested in the lifestyle.”
Josh Decker believes that the in stadia screens are a good way to enhance the relationship with these hardcore fans and build a relationship with first time visitors.
Tagboard works with numerous sports teams and leagues, including the MLS and many MLS teams. Josh explains how they are using Tagboard to enhance their fan experience.
“Major League Soccer and many MLS teams use Tagboard to get the fans excited and allow them a way to show their support to their team. As fans are entering the stadium their big screen captures and displays the fan’s content amplifies the energy and excitement. The community becomes part of the game experience. They feel they can influence the match by supporting their team and keeping the energy and excitement going inside the stadium.
“We're not causing a distraction, we're taking what people are already doing and empowering them and enhancing the experience. Social media breaks down the barriers and makes fans feel closer and more connected to their teams and favourite players. When teams use tagboard what happens is that the hashtag the teams use will trend nationally and usually globally on a large scale.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars have their own focus in terms of stadium engagement. As Hussain Naqi explains:
"The Jaguars have been on the leading edge from a technology perspective since Shahid [Khan] bought the team. Technology is something we are really trying to exploit in an effort to elevate the experience for our fans
“We have the world's largest video boards, in Jacksonville, we have one of the best control rooms in the world, in trying to power those boards - technology is something that we really are trying to do.”
While we wait to see what the next big step in technology is – whether it’s virtual reality continuing to boom, augmented reality or something we haven’t even considered - you can be sure that sports teams will be at the forefront of it, enhancing the fan experience.