Fan experience is a wide-ranging topic that seems to take on new aspects with every passing year. From the early days of tailgating and high profile cheerleading and dance teams, through the evolution of pneumatic t-shirt guns and the “kiss cam.” Now in 2017, mobile technology has moved to the front of fan experience as several leading mobile developers have started to focus on leagues, venues, and sports teams around the world.
High speed WiFi networks have become the new normal in modern stadiums and arenas everywhere. The change has been especially notable in NFL venues. WiFi has been quickly adopted around the league, with only 3 NFL stadiums lacking a high-speed network going in to the 2016 season. This enhanced connectivity has opened the door for mobile technology to have a massive impact on fan experience.
Technological Innovations in Fan Experience
Mobile apps are driving the interactive fan experience far beyond purchasing tickets and watching highlight films online. Today’s fans can use their smartphones to find parking spots, watch close-up replay videos in real time, and even to find the nearest restroom with the shortest line.
Many venues have already incorporated mobile point-of-service systems which allow fans to order food, drinks, and even memorabilia from the comfort of their assigned seats. Fans can place their orders and pay through the mobile app, and then wait for their selections to be delivered directly to their seats.
High Returns for High-Tech Investments
Mobile apps are also driving new revenue streams for some venues. Teams can use apps promote exclusive in-venue coupons and offers only to fans who are in attendance on a given day. Another example is the ability for fans to review available seat upgrades during the game. In venues that support this new functionality, fans can pay to upgrade their seats and move closer to the field after the event has already started.
Other venues have developed original innovative technologies. The Staples Center in Los Angeles, for example, has added high-speed “selfie” cameras throughout the entire venue which capture the reaction of every single fan in the house at pivotal points in the game. Fans can then download and share their reaction photos using the venue’s signature mobile app.
A Booming Niche for Mobile Developers
The new demand for increased fan experience through mobile apps has sparked a hot market for mobile app developers with experience in venue-specific apps. This emerging marketplace has been quickly populated with development companies touting their experience in venue management, real-time data analytics, large scale data warehousing and more.
One of the early frontrunners in developing mobile apps for sporting venues is San Francisco-based VenueNext, who debuted their cutting-edge solutions in 2014 at Levi’s Stadium. Over the past 3 years VenueNext has built up an unparalleled portfolio which includes Yankee Stadium, AT&T Stadium, the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and Churchill Downs.
In their short tenure, VenueNext has already partnered with many of Silicon Valley’s elite firms including Google, Facebook, Oracle and more.