I’m Here, You’re Not

The future of sport - how will technology shape our stadium experience?

17.07.15 | Research

By Ken Saito

im_here

“If there is one thing fans want to do at a game, it’s brag.”

George Scott (NFL Director of Digital)

 

Have you ever been to a sporting event, and had any of the following happen?

  • Tried calling a friend you’re meeting up with, but cannot get any connection
  • Wanted to know stats about a specific player and searched online, but the page would be loading forever
  • Took a great ‘selfie’ with your friends and wanted to upload it on social media, but failed due to lack of Wi-Fi

Chances are, most of you have experienced this and felt frustrated. 

Being connected all the time is very important for us to meet our needs, and so is the case at sporting events. Connectivity has changed our stadium experience, and it has potential to make the experience even better in the future. 

The advancement of technology has taken the stadium and arena standards high, with many of them installed with state-of-the-art LED screens, speaker system and Wi-Fi and 4G capabilities. However, the venues equipped with these technologies are only a handful, and very few fans in the United Kingdom rate stadium Wi-Fi highly. Additionally, Uniform’s research suggests that only half the stadiums Premier League clubs played in the 2014/15 season provide free Wi-Fi, with most of them only limited to specific areas of the stadium.

 

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So why has connectivity in stadiums become so important to the fans? 

As mentioned in the beginning of the blog, connectivity is highly important for calling, texting and sharing content on social media. In fact, roughly 50% of the fans in the United Kingdom want to share their experience with family and friends, and in real-time. Not only sharing, the same report shows that others fans’ thoughts on the event and experience are important for fans as well. Many fans are interested in in-tech enabled stadium services such as getting discounts, ticket confirmation, ordering food from seats, and so on. 

In order to meet the needs of the fans, some teams and stadiums have started to implement some of these in-tech enabled services. 

Major League Baseball released an app in the 2014 season, which enhances the fan experience by providing offers and rewards, seat upgrades, and personalized history of ballparks visited. Some functions are limited to specific stadiums, but nonetheless, it is a new way to experience a ball game. Wembley Stadium and EE have also launched a similar app, which also looks to enhance the fan experience on game days.

 

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With technology, the stadium experience is not only about stimulating your senses and soaking in the atmosphere, but also about connectivity. In just 3 years, the data usage at the Super Bowl has quadrupled, suggesting stadiums must take measures to meet this demand, as it will rise in the future. Given that the stadiums will be able to provide a fair amount of connectivity, the question for the future is: how much more personal can the stadium experience get? 

At Uniform, we are imagining how technology will shape the future of sports from the perspective of viewers, attenders of sporting events, and players of sport. This post is the first in a series of three, exploring those different viewpoints.  

The full report will be available in October 2015. 

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