Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Teams Are Using Mobile to Enhance the Fan Experience

Swish! Your favorite basketball team just scored the game-winning basket! But, you missed it because your nosebleed seats didn’t allow you to get a good look. This is a situation that frustrates many fans and happens all too often. Luckily, sports teams and marketers are listening to their fanbase when they say they want better and increased accessibility to games–both in the stadiums and on their couches. In the realm of native mobile apps, sports teams are recognizing that integrating the in-person and at-home fan experiences with the mobile technology they already know and love can lead to more engaged fans–which promotes higher ticket sales, more viewers at home, and increased sales in stadium merchandise and food.

All-Angle Access All the Time
With 72 percent of the United States population owning a smartphone, brands have to connect to their consumers digitally to stay relevant. Sports teams can leverage their fans’ excitement by offering mobile experiences for teams within the most popular leagues. The University of Nebraska rolled out their own video-based app called HuskerVision, where students, alumni, and fans can watch live streams of games while they’re at the stadium, which provides even those nose-bleed fans with close-up shots of the action from all angles. Not only that, but fans can access stats on players, and sideline reporting while they watch. HuskerVision connects the in-person fans with the team on the field, driving loyalty to the school and garnering the support that their players want. Over 50 percent of sports fans surveyed said a virtual view of the field would improve their experience, and 63 percent said that video replays would also generate an excitable experience. These consumers are begging for more content–and they’re willing to pay for it.

Digital Sports Fans are Leading the Charge for Impactful Online Influencers
One of the most viral videos of 2015 was a live commentary on a group of sorority sisters spending their time at a Diamondbacks game taking selfies. The announcers hilariously ripped into the girls for being vain and not paying attention to the game, ultimately catching the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who invited the girls on air. At the time it seemed silly, but the video was pretty telling of the fan experience in today’s digital age. Avaya released a report that showed that increasing digital shares during sporting events are connecting fans and creating buzz around their teams. 71 percent of stadium attendees said they post updates to social media while at a stadium, including posting to applications like Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. These fans want to share real-time updates with friends and family, as well as show support for the teams playing–and posting to social media through their phones is the best way to do it. Capitalizing on this trend means that teams can reinvigorate their ticket sales and keep their audiences enthusiastic about making the trip out to see a game.

Monetizing Fans While in the Stadium
Capturing the attention of fans while they’re still in the stadium is key to driving food and merchandise sales–and it’s something that mobile can play a big part in. A lot of stadiums have their own mobile apps where fans can access instant game replays, get food or beverage sale push notifications, and see what’s available in the merchandise shop. This type of digital link to their physical location keeps fans connected to the upbeat atmosphere the entire time they’re in the stadium, therefore allowing them a unique experience that caters to each category of sports fan (even the ones that are just there for the selfies). And as technology advances, so are these mobile fan experiences. The San Francisco 49ers are using beacons in their mobile application to enable location-based push notifications at their stadium in Santa Clara. The beacons track the app users location while in the stadium, allowing for targeted marketing based on zones. The system can send notifications of when vendors are coming around with cotton candy or soda, help fans find the bathroom with the shortest lines, and highlight the nearest exits in case of an emergency. (And just in case you missed it, we recently covered another team doing mobile and reaping the rewards–The Detroit Lions!)

While the benefits of providing fans with a mobile touchpoint are plenty, the most exciting for sports brands may be the data that they are gathering along the way. When fans interact with these mobile apps, it allows venues to learn who the fans are and what they want to see, filtering out the information that is meaningless, and enhancing their overall experience. The upswing in richer fan-focused events keeps the sports enthusiasts happy, engaged, and ready to come back again.