Sports entertainment is a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s going through a severe disruption at the moment. Now, the entire world, be it in business or otherwise, is going through a vast transformation, facilitated in large part by new digital technologies. What some may call it the 4th Industrial Revolution; others see it as an incredible opportunity.
When it comes to fan engagement, sports leagues need to find new and innovative ways to connect with their supporters or risk becoming obsolete. With that said, here are some strategies used by famous sports clubs in their attempt at generating more fan engagement.
Turning to Mobile
Even as far back as 2014, 83% of sports fans were regularly checking their mobile phones while attending a live sporting event. As expected, this number has not shrunk over the following years, with various sports teams even taking it a step further.
The Denver Broncos of the NFL, for instance, has recently undertaken a $6 million renovation of their stadium to provide free Wi-Fi to everyone present at the event. It is by no means the only way sports leagues are addressing the issue. The Seattle Seahawks, on the other hand, have a team mobile app that provides fans with in-game stats and video, as well as the possibility to order food, drinks, and merchandise directly to their seat.
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is using Fanisko Engage, a unique one-stop fan engagement platform. It is an AI-powered, backend plugin, perfectly able to provide fans with hybrid fantasy games, personalized fees, AR and VR gaming, as well as play-by-play predictions. Fanisko can also offer sports teams behavioral analytic tools, enabling them to understand their fans better, turning them into hardcore followers, in the process.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Digital technologies enable sports teams to develop their fan base abroad. The trend, however, means that most of these international fans will never have the possibility or opportunity to attend any of their matches. Interestingly enough, however, the CEO of English soccer team Aston Villa, Keith Wyness, has said in an interview at the Telegraph Business of Sport in 2017, that sports teams are not that far away from selling Virtual Reality season tickets.
These tickets initially will be sold to fans from other countries as a means of replicating the matchday experience without actually cannibalizing on the real ticket opportunity. If this trend continues, the expectation is that sports clubs will scale down their stadium sizes, focusing more on luxury areas and amenities.
Augmented reality (AR), is yet another area where sports leagues are turning for more fan engagement. In September 2017, the MLB has announced its new AR app called ‘At Bat.’ With it, baseball fans in the stadium can point their mobile devices at the field and receive all sorts of information such as player profiles, arm strength, catch probability, base percentage, batting averages, as well as the speed and trajectory of every single hit.
In short, mobility and convenience are the two main elements that drive the strategies employed by famous sports clubs to engage with their fans. The key to success in this changing environment is to pick up on trends as they form and apply new technologies for better engagement.