Over the last two decades, advancements in technology have changed pretty much every aspect of our life. From the way we order coffee and food, to how we engage with one another on a personal level. It’s safe to say technology has changed the way we do our everyday things. This can also include how we celebrate our rich, game-day traditions. Technology has, from the start, always impacted and changed the way we view our favorite games and teams. Take for example radio broadcasting. Over a century has passed since radio transformed the Fan Experience by broadcasting live games for those who couldn’t make it to the real thing. Fast forward to the 1940s where live television broadcasts were introduced and forever changed our viewing habits as fans. No longer did people have to purchase tickets to see a game, but instead could enjoy it from the comfort of their own couch. It’s safe to say the revolution of the fan experience started at radio and boomed in television. But now what? Is simply broadcasting a game enough for fans anymore? Well, no. Fans at home want to be, and deserve to be, just as immersed in the experience of the game as those watching the live event - they want to feel the excitement and roar from the bleachers and stadium too. And just because they don’t have tickets, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a similar, heightened experience.
Sports teams and leagues owe it to their dedicated fan bases to level up and make sure they’re keeping up with technology and in turn, their fans. And to be fair, the sports industry has done a pretty great job in embracing SportsTech. It’s even safe to say they are one of the leaders when it comes to big brands utilizing social resources.
But it’s time to take it a step further. Modern technology and data collection allow for a much richer, more customized relationship and, in turn, experiences between the fans and their favorite teams. And those relationships can be leveraged to meet business goals and objectives without taking advantage of the fans. Using today’s technology, the in-stadium and out-of stadium fan experience can improve to provide the best possible outcome for both fan and franchise.
THE HEART OF A FAN DOESN’T CHANGE, BUT THE TECHNOLOGY DOES
Fans will always seek emotional connections to their teams. But like everything in this day and age, the definition of what we call a fan is expanding. Today, anyone can personalize their fan experience - whether it’s by atending the actual game, catching it on the couch, or somewhere in the middle, let’s say a sports bar.
Some fans will time and time again choose to stay home and watch the game on their Smart TVs where the only interruptions are from the commercials. Some fans prefer to go to every single game to show and prove their dedication and support. At the game, they’ll need a great Wireless connection too, you know, to prove their dedication by posting to social (#GOTEAM!). And some fans may enjoy the whole process of an in-stadium game day… the tailgating, the great music, games, and interactive activities during intermissions. Some fans just like to enjoy the tailgate in the parking lot and then watch the game at a bar inside the stadium. In face, in Atlanta at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, the stadiums operator found that reducing food and beverage prices by 50% led to a 16% increase in total revenues. Optimizing the fan experience is crucial to the continued success of fan dedication.
A MIX OF AI AND DATA ANALYTICS AWAITS SPORTS FANS AND FRANCHISES
Because technology is our friend (usually), it’s also helping with the way we as fans interact with our favorite franchises. Data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) might sound like they have no place in the sports world, but they actually have a huge spot. And to be frank, they should be welcomed with open arms as the tech behind them has the power to truly personalize our experiences both in and outside of the stadium. However, franchises and organizations alike need to ensure they are keeping our data safe if they intend to use our data to improve/optimize the overall fan experience. Plus, keeping our data safe is also part of a positive fan experience. With that being said, here is how data analytics and AI can come together to create a richer fan experience.
Let’s say for example, that you and your family are die-hard Pico Panthers fans. You try to attend as many games as possible but life can often get in the way. As a fan, wouldn’t you love to receive a Facebook message announcing team updates, last-minute ticket deals or a chance to win signed merch, before it’s on the news and before everyone else? Through your responses to this messaging, allows for contextual data collection. With your collected responses, the team will better know your interests and in turn, can send to you more relevant content instead of just a blast mass message that has no personalized feel.
The difference between success and failure in the sports industry and specifically within SportsTech, can be measured by what’s being done with the fan data. And fans will reward the teams that do it right. The ability to study and make sense of the data is the key to seizing new opportunities within fandoms. AI in sports won’t add a robotic feel to the communication between team and fan, it will only enhance it if utilized correctly.
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